Update for week ended 8 July 2011
The stadium was packed. The crowds were screaming. Cameras flashed as the events unfolded. The tracks were being swept for the 400 m hurdles. At the winners’ podium stood the winners of the steeple chase who had just been awarded. They were bowing to the crowds, waving their bouquets, kissing their medals and posing for the shutterbugs in the stands as well as those on the field. But all eyes were focused on the field – as the pole vault action was about to begin. The first person to run up with the pole was a Pole who barely managed to clear the height, but his ankle tipped the bar and it came crashing down as he flopped onto the mattress, grimacing. The next vaulter was the centre of attention for the day – as he held his pole – parallel to the ground. He concentrated on the bar ahead of him while the screaming crowds could have distracted anyone; perhaps even Vishwamitra, but not Anton. Anton’s dogged attention and focus was legendary – he behaved as though he was a deaf and mute person wearing blinkers that he heard and saw no-one around him (like Arjuna). Anton started his sprint – holding the pole straight ahead of him, parallel to the ground. He had cleared a few metres as his speed suddenly accelerated and then he dug his stake into the pit in front of the bar and the acceleration helped. His strong arms and shoulders used the pole as a spring – compressing it, and then almost magically, he was thrust up into the sky, upside down. Anton knew that this was a critical path where his leg muscles were contracted with toes pointing upwards; and almost like in slow motion, as he felt weightlessness, he curled his body at the pelvis, outstretching his arms beyond his body, hooping over the bar. He had left the pole in mid air as his torso spun over the bar and missing it by a whisker’s breadth, Anton dropped groundwards. Even before he could land on the soft mattresses below, the crowd had erupted into a roar that could be heard perhaps from over a mile away from the stadium. The flash bulbs flashed like mini lightning bolts all around the stands and the shutterbugs on the field had their zoom lenses trained only on Anton. They captured every moment of his rise and his fall and his facial expressions and his gratitude to all. They followed him back to the start-up line, where his coach, manager, doctor gave him a fist pump and hug. Anton knew that he was on his way to glory.
The D Boyz were in a mood for a lot of action this week. After the fairly happy week gone by, they were raring to go this week. The weekend sessions at the gym and their stamina build up was showing as they returned to D Street on Monday – their energy levels were high as they went about their work – carrying the burdensome SENSEX with them. All week long, they ran about the street – almost like a run up at a pole vault event – and on Thursday – they thrust themselves high. As they carried the SENSEX with them, it climbed to dizzying heights with their energy – in fact at a point piercing the 19000 levels. They felt on top of the world – some of the Boyz could be seen blowing kisses to the crowds around them and overseas as well. And then came the announcement – stanozolol. Some of the big Boyz tested positive in the dope test – and like their athletic counterparts, they too were disgraced – as the other Boyz tried to hold onto the falling pole SENSEX. But not all was lost, as the SENSEX had risen 96 points since last week – to end at 18858.
Anton had to wait for the other vaulters – but none could clear the height record that he had set. He knew that he was the winner. He had put on his T-shirt, and the jacket, and with broad smiles was walking about the field. And then one of the games officials walked across to the coach with a paper in hand. He had some serious discussion and went back to the official tent. The winners were announced. Anton was not on the list. He had failed the dope test.
No-one knows the real story, whether the steroids were part of a contaminated food supplement packet, or someone had conspired against the girls; or their dose of diuretics was just not enough for hot and humid Indian conditions. Perhaps if they were training and testing in cooler Ukraine, this may not have even surfaced. No one knows the true story of what happened – or perhaps it is murkier than it appears – like the sensational homicide in suburban Mumbai 3 years ago. Whatever it is, be safe, do the safe things and stay happy. Wish you all a great weekend.