Western Reflections

Dave Mathieson
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Running thoughts

With the summer Olympics arriving in China this summer and with endless steroid scandals on the sports pages I had to ask myself, "How far would I go to win an Olympic gold medal? Would I take steroids if it would ensure I win?"
In my youth I dreamed of performing amazing athletic feats.
One of my biggest deluded dreams was to be an Olympic 100-metre sprinter.
The only problem with this dream was that I wasn't very fast.
I just liked to run.
I liked pounding my sneakers into the ground, driving my legs like two pistons and punching forward as fast as I could.
I don't run much anymore, as a matter of fact, I probably haven't run in 20 years, but a day doesn't go by that I don't daydream about leaping out of the starting blocks, propelling myself outward and upward and pounding my cleats into the ground while my arms drive back and forth.
When I lived in Toronto I went to see Ben Johnson race at Maple Leaf Gardens. This was before the steroid scandal.
I saw him run the 60-metre sprint when he broke the indoor world record. It was a sight to behold. It was as though he was tearing up the track with his sneakers. It was pure power realized. I still have Johnson's autograph.
The question I sometimes ask myself is, "If scientists developed a pill that had no negative side effects but allowed me to run as fast as Johnson did on that day would I take it?"
In my youth I would have said 'Yes,' just so I could realize for a moment what it felt like to run that fast. But now that I'm older the idea of being a super-human sprinter doesn't have as strong a grip on my imagination.
The bottom line is this - If everyone ate a magic pill to perform super-human athletic feats, sports would no longer be about trying to do your best, instead it would be about who has the best chemistry set. The man with the best pill would win.
Sports would be nothing more than a bunch of people kidding themselves; a bunch of people who can't face up to the fact they are merely human.
Thanks but no thanks.
Now that I'm older, and maybe a little wiser, I realize no type of drug could help me win Olympic gold. I'll just keep breaking the world record in my mind's eye, that's enough for me.
Besides, if I could suddenly run fast enough to break the 100-metre world record, my bones would break and my heart would explode. They'd have to scrape my body off the track.
P.S. The fastest man in the world right now is Asafa Powell. He is from Jamaica and has run the 100-metre sprint in 9.74 seconds, a world record. He would have run faster but it was a semi-final heat and unfortunately he let up a little before crossing the finish line. He has run close to that speed several times.

Organizations: Johnson's

Geographic location: China, Toronto, Maple Leaf Gardens Jamaica

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