According to www.answers.com, an underdog is one who is expected to lose a contest or struggle, as in, inter alia, sports.
I like running and it gives me pleasure in breaking the best time Rubicon almost every time I run. I cannot run only for the fun of it. I need to be the best even if it means that I would anyway finish well behind the winner. I need to see myself winning against all the odds. Some people may see this as unconstructive suffering, but I see it as a “never give up attitude”. I see a virtue in trying even if I already know the end result. You never know when the impossible may result in a surprise win.
I started running cross-country for my High School during 1978. All of my team members had been running cross-country since primary school and one of them represented our Province on several occasions. We had cross-country championships in our town one very cold and icy winter’s day during 1979 and I was part of the team. The odds of me winning the championship were none. However, on that day I had the race of my life, and due to my tender physical composition was able to beat the much bigger Provincial champion over the last 200 metres in the mud to the finish line. I heard the next day that the father of the failed champion was so upset about the incident that he subdued his son to corporal punishment that evening. On the contrary, this was one of the happiest days in my life.
The second occasion was in my final year of my High School. I had seen a sport competition advertised in the Volksblad newspaper and asked our cross-country coach to enrol us for the competition. He was first a bit unwilling to do it, but after I harassed him about it, he eventually got all the forms completed and we were subsequently chosen as the final team for the competition. Ten schools with a total of 50 scholars were allowed to compete and each school had 5 team members. We went to the competition with an old Kombi bus and had to push it in the mornings to get it going. The coach was of the opinion that to keep the Hungry Horaces energised, they need to consume a lot of biltong and condensed milk.
We were one of the smallest schools in the competition and the odds were that we would finish last. However, the first item of the six-item event was cross-country and we finished that event with 3 members under the first 10. The first athlete over the winning line was one of our team with the number 50. For all practical purposes the number 50 should not have crossed the line first. The commentator was just as surprised and said the following when he entered the sports ground: ‘It is number ….50, indeed, number 50 entering the Stadium!!’ We won the competition, beating Grey College Bloemfontein and Paarl Gymnasium in the process. The first price was a Toyota Hi-Ace microbus and it was delivered by Toyota, one of the sponsors, to the School the next week. The said microbus was stolen later, ending this fairy tale on a lower note. However, for one weekend during 1982, we were the champions from a small town in the Eastern Free State. Never underestimate the “underdog”!
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