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Too few hits, too many misses

George N Netto Dec 16 2017, 21:55 IST
He did try his hand at football.

He did try his hand at football.

To excel as a sportsman was the burning desire of my youth, a dream that, sadly, burnt out faster than a firecracker, thanks to a conspiracy of circumstances.

Cricket, I was bluntly told, wasn't for the likes of me(,) after I took a mighty swipe at a full toss, missed the ball altogether, and saw my bat fly unerringly towards the fielder at short square leg, who would've been decapitated hadn't he ducked in time.

In hockey, I proved to be a wizard at keeping my trotters unscathed. Short of levitating, I agilely hopped out of harm's way whenever necessary - even at the cost of letting our opponents wallop home a goal. My preoccupation with self-preservation ensured my early exit.

In football, I quickly became a liability to my team with my instinctive urge to foul opponents about to score. The consequent penalty kicks invariably resulted in goals. When this happened once too often, my skipper's face turned a shade redder than the referee's red card, and he unceremoniously ordered me off the field.

Never one to give up, I was beckoned by tennis. However, despite my best efforts, my serves just failed to clear the net. And when, as a last resort, a fellow trainee jocosely suggested that the infernal impediment be lowered a little for my benefit, I came dangerously close to 'grand-slamming' him with a racquet. Tennis, too, turned out to be a damp squib.

Soon the leisurely charms of golf hooked me. Then I saw a grim-faced tyro viciously ploughing up clods of earth with his club to the accompaniment of unprintable profanity, while the ball sat primly on the course, unmoved. Certain that I couldn't better that, I backed out.

Next, I gravitated to weightlifting, hoping it would lift a weight off my mind at being an abject failure as a sportsman. The brawny instructor at the gym eyed me as if I'd just fled some famine-stricken country.

Anyway, bending, I gripped the barbell he grudgingly assigned me and tried to heft it.

It refused to budge, remaining anchored despite my repeated efforts. Ten perspiring minutes later, I straightened up with difficulty to hear the instructor rasp, "Tomorrow, we'll see if you can lift it as far as your ankles!"

Stung to the quick, I gracefully bowed out.

Then, recalling that in school I'd excelled in vaulting the compound wall while bunking class, I decided to give pole vault a try. I joined a sports training centre, where I set a record - still unbroken - for the number of times I sailed under the crossbar rather than over it.

So, if India lost a spirited sportsman, it certainly wasn't due to lack of effort on my part.

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