Sunday, August 05, 2012


I have just come from watching the Olympic sports on my television.  I gave it one hundred percent of my attention.  Why,  I decided,  should I give half an ear to what might be being described on a radio while I am washing up, cooking or ironing in the kitchen, where there is no T.V.  (I wouldn't dare take the risk of doing something daft amongst all those tools and equipment, while my focus and attention was other than where it was sensible to be).  I was glued to my armchair seat, getting as excited as anyone for those wonderful Olympians.  For all their efforts, the least I could do was give them my undivided attention.  

While watching the sporting spectacle,  I began to revolve through a lifetime of memories; memories of the school games and sports; the training for our county sports, the competing in individual races and in teams.  I was quite sprightly in the hurdles races too.  My long jump co-ordination developed in my mid teens.  I remembered how satisfying it was to expand what I was able to do in the athletics and sports arena.  Though why it all stopped is a mystery, I cannot remember. Maybe all those sporty interests were not easily followed through once I left school.  

Seeing my genuine  interest in their lunchtime matches of table tennis, some work mates took me under their respective wings, and with great patience taught me to play a very useful game of table-tennis.  They were fast competition players and it must have been tedious to play a game at my bat-and-ball level.  But, you have to start somewhere. There was just the lunch break to play, not a lot of time.  I learned to serve at different lengths to and from the net; I lobbed; I caused the ball to spin; played  back spins and top spins; I learned to neutralise those ball techniques  with opponents who played them to me.  As my skills increased so did the speed of the games.  As my game became more skilled, I occasionally stayed after hours to support extra practice for my work pals with informal foursomes and pairs matches.  I found table tennis was a game I could pick up again fairly easily over the years, even in small recreation rooms that had full size tables dominating most of the space.

Once, I was the secret weapon in a friendly match between offices.  There was barely space to move back from the table, or, around it.  The visitors' champion had taken our team to the line and then I was wheeled on to play a deciding match.  Did I dream it, or did I see a mini sneer play around the guy's mouth: what's this, a woman!  I remember smiling at him.  The game started.  He was visibly startled at the pace at which I could hold the game, he could not play that fast for long.  He used every technique in the rule book that he knew and every spin, as did I.  At each cut and stroke I used to neutralise his armoury, he shook his head.  I won that match.  Our side won the little competition.



snowbird said...

I too loved table tennis....I ever seem to play it on holiday these days though!
At school I was terrified of pole vaulting and hurdling....never could master them
It's amazing how many medals we are pulling in, our lot are excelling themselves!xxxxx

Anonymous said...

I've been very impressed by every Olympian but especially our own, truly talented & highly dedicated people who live & breathe their chosen sport, playing in the real spirit of the games.

I was always keen on sports without showing the least sign of excelling at any of really was all about the taking part.

ZACL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZACL said...

Erm...what was that about pole vaulting, Snowbird...... ;)

I started to jump the horse( the box) with alacrity a few months before leaving school.

Our lot, U.K. wide, are amazing.

I watched a one hundred metres ladies sprint yesterday, (no team GB representation) and the speed of that run, just to keep in the game was breathtaking. You could barely have time to say pitter-patter.

ZACL said...

Hi Ax,

I am entirely in tune with your sentiments.

The exhilaration of participating in the school sports individually and in teams, also taking part in the team games, is what I remember best. I recollect, we didn't do too badly though.

Anonymous said...

My hope is that we can capitalise on the enormous current interest in sport amongst our youth & provide a new generation of stars for years to come.

Give them the opportunity & facilities to attain their best!

ZACL said...

Hello Axe,

Your final point is the axiom on which sincere input for all types of competitions and developments - not just sports - should be encouraged.

Well said!