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Running isn’t a part of life, it is life
Author:Diana Stanislavova  Date:2018-12-18  Clicks:

Look up at the azure sky, feel the warm undulating breeze on your skin, veer your gaze to the ground as you crouch on the starting line. Cross your fingers, bend your knees, align your feet, wait for release. “Bam!”, goes the gun. The start in athletics is not as dramatic as a rocket countdown - astronauts, at least, have a few seconds to prepare before catapulting into space.

The runner, however, must have his wits about him, the shot is like a haunting - you know it’s coming but never exactly when. They must be ready to propel themselves onto the running track like a bullet, fire as fast as possible. Just make sure it’s after the shot, otherwise, you are off to a false start and you have to redo the moment that's already rattled your bones.

In Wuhan University you are likely to meet your match. On November 2, Wuhan University hosted its annual Wuhan University Track and Field Day. Many different departments participated in the event, as did our School of International Education. The day started bright and early and all the organisers and competitors were on the 912 Playground by 7 a.m. The Vice President of Wuhan University gave a warm speech welcoming all competitors and announced that he is looking forward to all the events.

Every department lined up, headed by the flag of their school, ready to march in the Opening Ceremony. Everyone was announced separately and had their moment of glory, some even performed. Everyone walked a lap of the track, paraded in front of the judges, and sang the anthem of the university.

Now, let the games begin!

The race begins with an influx of power, of energy, of stamina. All competitors may be a diamond in the rough, their potential may float beneath the surface but, at this moment, they must become the diamond. They must be all that they can be, must make sure that ability meets agility.

Float like a butterfly dancing in the wind, like a koi fish frivolously jumping out of water; they are laughing in the face of fear, flirting with danger. Run with ease, but be ready to pounce like a lion, the competition is unsuspecting prey.


One of the first races was one of the most impressive. Limpho Lethunya, Lesotho, claimed the 1st prize in the men’s 100 meters. Limpho’s story begins in Lesotho. He was into sports since he was a child. Initially, his main interest was in football but he became more invested in athletics as time went on. Athletics events take place annually in his school and he only missed one year, admitting “athletics became my number one sport along with education.”

As soon as Limpho arrived in Wuhan he began training but, for now, he has been alone and hopes to make ties with Chinese athletes in the university to be able to train with like-minded individuals. On the day of the competition, Limpho says he was happy to have competed: it is better than training alone, “competition can only improve you.” He came second in the first heat and was overjoyed with his unexpected triumph. On a personal level, however, Limpho thinks that the first race is never the best - as an athlete, you can be rusty as it takes a few races to be your best.

Success does not come without its challenges though. For Limpho, he did not expect the weather to be so hot here; Wuhan, in fact, is different every day. He was not deterred by this and decided to circumvent his problem by starting his training at 6 a.m. Initially, waking up early was definitely difficult but he loves his sport and is willing to sacrifice his sleep.

On the day of the competition, he felt that the language barrier was his biggest worry because he did not understand the instructions from the coach who started the race which, he feels, compromised his starting time. Like a true pro, he adjusted and made his mark on the track. The 100-meter race was the highlight of the event but he did not fully get to enjoy it as he was already preparing for the next race - dedication never leaves his side. On the cusp of ending the race, no one seemed to know who won because Limpho seemed to cross the finish line simultaneously with another runner. Even before the official announcement, Limpho knew he had won. Confidence is power.


“Athletics was my first-love sport, since I was young, I was considered a little bit faster than everyone,” says Deshawn George, the Vice Director of the Sports’ Department in WISU, “it was the first sport that called to me and I decided to run with it.” Deshawn grabbed 2nd place in the triple jump but before becoming a killer runner in WHU, his first inkling for athletics truly began in high school, in Dominica, when he joined the athletics team. At the time, his coach was one of the best on the island and, from there, Deshawn developed to what he calls a “semi-pro” level.

For over four years, Deshawn has not trained for athletics so, when it came to competing, he feels he wasn’t ready, it was all very spur-of-the-moment. “Athletics is something I hold dear to my heart,” says Deshawn, “something I put my all into.” Despite doubts, he definitely was not just going to hand over the win.

Deshawn thinks that he wasn’t the only one not fully ready for the event, the university handled the preparation well but, as the Vice Director of the Sport Department in WISU, he is convinced that, with more students volunteering for the event and additional support from the School of International Education, the day could have been even more successful..

Competition was stiff but not everyone saw it coming, “what really stunned me was the performance of some of the Chinese athletes, which was excellent, I must say.” Deshawn was not so happy with his own performance though, “silver is, in my mind, the biggest loser.” For not having trained for four years and coming spontaneously to the event, he thinks that coming second was “acceptable”, but there is always room for improvement.

Deshawn hopes for another “energetic” Track and Field Day next year, with even tougher competition and even better organization.


Apart from the hopping disciplines like triple or long jump, and the power throwing sports like javelin or shot-put, athletics is mainly a feat of running. Be ‘The Flash’ on the racetrack, be the fastest of all winners, the humblest of runners-up, and the most dedicated of athletes.

For Elisa Fradet, France, who came 3rd in 1500 meters, running is an important way to stay fit, “I always loved running. Since I was little I got used to practising different sports but running is really the one that helps me the most to expend my energy.”

Elisa, like Deshawn, feels that she wasn’t too well prepared for the event. She runs every day but is preparing for a half marathon so, for her, the 1500-meter distance feels much shorter and much more daunting.

It’s easy to have doubts about your performance, especially on the first go, In Elisa’s view, “this was my first athletic competition,” but that does not mean that confidence won't prevail. As Elisa continues, “I really appreciated the competition. Especially because the Chinese students were so into it!I also loved spending time with my friends, running, encouraging them, and it was a chance to meet the other guys from the same sports group.”

For the international students, the Track and Field Day was announced a little late, which only  heightened the pressure. However, Elisa did not have to face the burden alone, she found a running buddy in Charles and the two ran together a few times to calm the nerves before the big day. Elisa thinks that her triumph was a team effort: “it was about teamwork for me, without encouragement from my friends I wouldn’t have even shown up because I was convinced that I couldn’t win anything running such a short distance.”

She may have come a respectable third, but Elisa is hungry for more and wishes that she could have prepared more as she had “no real idea she could maintain running this kind of distance.”

Elisa expects more of herself next time but this time is belated with the achievements of the team. She said, “it’s more of a collective motivation rather than a personal achievement.”


Maybe your competitors know your ability or it’s the first time you are meeting, do not let the expectations of irrelevant people impede you from achieving greatness. Your biggest challenger, most vexing villain, the craftiest competitor is always you. You run to beat your own time, you run to prove prowess to yourself. Focus on what matters. Critics can throw you off - never let them.

As Charles Rametsi, South Africa, 4th in 1500 meters, says: “Athletics is a culture, where I come from when you grow up, you need to be a man in sports…it keeps you away from trouble.”

“A hobby is something else just for fun. A passion is something you work on daily to try and prove yourself,” says Charles. Running is something that is more than just an exertion of energy, it’s a way of life: “I do running more than anything.”

This is not Charles’ first Track and Field Day at WHU, so he is running against himself. His goal is to beat his time, regardless of what everyone else is doing: “running is you against you.” Focusing on competitors only throws him off. Last year, his time was 18 minutes - this year, he completed the same race in 17.34 minutes. It’s all about beating your own time. For Charles, athletics is a combination of physical and mental strength; a competitor can train his entire body but without the willpower to go on, even the strongest will falter. Charles’ main challenges this year were two other competitors who, 50 meters away, tried to distract him during the start. He managed to maintain his focus and keep his competition personal. No one was going to mess with his result.

For Charles, running is everything and so his efforts do not end with the competition. He runs all around China, every month. He wants to pursue athletics professionally and is even shooting for the world championships if he can qualify with his time in the next big marathon in Beijing or Shanghai.

He gave an interview to share his wisdom for the hopefuls of the 2016 Wuhan Marathon. He’s driven to the brim but knows that not everything is always smooth sailing: “Someone’s going to be faster than you. In a competition, always be ready, that’s how it goes. Leave room for improvement. Sometimes 100 percent is not enough.”

Sometimes disappointment is not your own fault though, as Charles says, he trained with some athletes getting ready for the African Championships in Botswana. One competitor’s time was 4:38 and Charles’ was 4:47. He was always a little bit faster and the end result showed it: “Time doesn’t lie, numbers don’t lie.” Unfortunately, the competitor’s father was the head coach, thus, Charles got left behind. He didn’t lose heart though. That’s Charles’ main message: perseverance, the ability to learn from your mistakes and constantly improve yourself.

Finally, together, our athletes, Limpho Lethunya, Deshawn George, Charles Rametsi, and Sean Majongwe, also participated in the 4 x 100-meters relay and came seventh. Some of the athletes felt that their exchange time when passing the baton could have been better but overall they are all proud of their achievements on the day.

China may not be their home country but just because they are guests here does not mean that they cannot win. The athletes may be on foreign ground but they participate in familiar sports.

Edited by: Hu Yue, Wang Wei, Shi Weiya & Hu Sijia


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