It was a cloudless sunny morning and preparations for the annual track and field sports meeting was underway at the Olympic Playground. The arena, in the heart of the university, was being set up for the competition. Each department had installed a tent of its own–decorated with balloons, red banners and placards with ‘Go for it’ messages. The student-athletes were preoccupied with their brief stint of warm-up in their sporting clothes while the volunteers were busy checking the registration forms of athletes and handing out bib numbers to the athletes. In an intense carnival-like atmosphere, cheerful music echoed throughout the playground. Aluminum track curbing and sector tapes were set up around the tartan track. The sports workforce had to ensure that everything went well as they had planned. Unlike intercollegiate events, the athletes were competing on their home turf.
Booths of different schools
After the commencement of the meeting was announced, the athletes marched around the track. They were decked out in all kinds of themed apparels from Western, preppy ,funky , rocker, sophisticated, classic ‘magician’ to traditional Chinese and of course, their own school mascot was also there. The team leader led the school delegation holding the placard with the school’s name on it and hoisted the school flag while the rest of the athletes were marching with great gravitas and chanting slogans. Two quadcopters were hovering steadily over the playground with bright red banners hanging from their rotors. There was an acrobatic performance by the athletes, a spectacular dragon dance and a martial arts demonstration, which left the audience enraptured. The athletes with their burly frame looked fiercely competitive.
The athletes were quipping with their teammates to keep the mood light amidst such a highly competitive environment. The sports meet kicked off with a woman’s 100 meter dash. The crowd on the bleachers was cheering loudly for the athletes, chanting their names. The whole playground was swept away by tides of enthusiasm and the atmosphere instantly turned lively–the drums thrumming, the beats of the music pounding, the flags wavering–as the athletes crouched down awaiting the sound of the starting pistol. The gleeful autumn haze lifted the temperament of the athletes and provided an inexhaustible impetus to their soaring sprits. Nerves twitched as the starting pistol was shot, the sprinters ran like racehorses on their lane. The crowd cheered for them and the timekeepers on the elevated stands looked at their stopwatches as the sprinters dashed past the finish line, followed by a rapturous applause.
The student athletes are runing towards the finishing line
Other competitions were the men’s and women’s 110 meter hurdles, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m and the 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay, high jump, long jump, triple jump, shot put, and triathlon. The competition ended with the mixed 20x50 meter relay, where the athletes tried to outrun other teams while passing over the baton to the teammates on the other side of the track.
With this, the two day rendezvous filled with excitement, drama and inspiration, came to an end. But that was not the end for the athletes, the crowd went on an everlasting frenzy as they held a victory parade around the tracks, fluttered the flags triumphantly, cheered for the winners, and took group photos with the shiny medals. Overall, the School of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering received the highest scores while the School of Electrical Engineering and School of Political Science and Public Administration ranked second and third respectively.
The student-athletes showed resolute strength, limitless vitality, athletic prowess and sheer raw talent. They earned respect and appreciation for displaying high moral standards, compliance to the rules, commitment to leadership and an earnest attitude. Victory is the ultimate goal of any competition but the principles of excellent sportsmanship, fair play and a passion for sports should take precedence at all times. The schools had organized squad trainings and sports fixtures to test their physical limits and stamina.
A student is taking part in the high jump
The athletes were somewhat acquiescent, following the orders of their team leaders, which helped them fend off challenges and defeat the other teams. Some of the athletes had performed so well in the qualifiers that the team leaders presumed they were going to strike gold. All of that came true on the track with only a smattering of disappointments. The brio and spirit of the athletes on the track was commendable and some of their performances even left the crowd surprised.
No matter how harrowing the competition was, at the end of the day, the athletes were sated with the medals hanging around their necks. All the athletes approached the competition with an athletic spirit and even though they were best friends off the track, on the track, they were rivals. Like the past handful of years, the event was a tremendous success.
It was a surreal day for all the champions who believed in themselves and their teammates.
“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” – Pele
(Photo by Wu Jiamin, Edited by Fang Siyuan, Zhang Ran, Edmund & Hu Sijia)