I'd like to think that all I asked of my children when they were young and competing in various sports was that they made an honest effort. It probably started out that way, then we discovered that they had been blessed with natural talents in certain areas and I came to expect more of them, I'd feel frustrated if they didn't give 100% all the time. I'm glad to say that didn't happen often. And that the performances that impressed me the most were when they achieved in an area in which they didn't have a natural talent.
My kids' running ability did not come from me, unbeknowst to me I'd married into a family of runners. The grandchild that has inherited the running gene is Georgia.
When the cross country race at school started yesterday, my son, daughter-in-law and I were a bit puzzled to see a tall (for the age group), slim girl way out front right from the start and asked, "Where is Georgia? Can't see her." She should have been somewhere at the front. The runners were on the far side of the field below. Before too long, Danny said, "That's her out front." and Heather and I argued that girl was too tall to be her. Then the runners drew closer and I felt a tear in my throat as I recognised her father. How did I not see it immediately? - the same composed, upright, confident, easy, efficient style.
It's a long race, a lap around the school field to sort out the contenders before crossing the road and heading over rough farm land, down a steep hill, through a creek, up a steeper hill on the other side, along a ridge, out of sight to goodness knows where after that, and then the return.
There were no other runners in sight when Georgia came back up that hill, still running at an easy (looking), steady pace. A smile for us as she ran past and back into the school grounds. Only another 70 metres to the finish line, still no-one else in sight.
But, she got to the finish line, right up to the line, and a teacher leans down and says something to her and back across the field she had to run - she'd gone the wrong way when she entered the school grounds! She was about 20m from the point where she had to turn and go the other way when another girl entered the field. I think Danny was the only one of us that was confident she "still had enough in the tank". He was right, she still won by about 20 metres.
I'm so proud of her. Yes, she has the natural ability but she has also inherited her father's quiet confidence in his ability and his determination to give it his best effort even when it hurts. (Georgia's quote: I thought I'd swallowed poison my throat hurt so much!) And to keep giving it everything even when winning does not look likely.
I'm also very proud of Krystal. She doesn't have Georgia's natural ability and could easily have run with the pack but she didn't, she did the very best she could. When she came back up that last hill, she was suffering, stumbled on the rough ground and almost fell. But she carried on, trying till the end and came fourth in her age group.
An honest effort!
Krystal, running easily at the start
Thanks, Heather for the photos - I'd forgotten my camera.