I love a good sports day, although I prefer to call it by its proper name, Sky Sports Super Sunday.
School Sports Day on the other hand …
I try to remain enthusiastic. No really, I do. But there comes a point, normally around heat 32 of the sack race, where it starts to wane.
It’s not helped by the egg and spoon race. I wouldn’t trust either of my two to carry an egg from the kitchen to the dining room, carefully and using both hands. Yet I have to sit and applaud heat after heat of three year-olds with the hand-eye coordination of a drunken baboon stumble fifty metres across a field riddled with molehills, all the while trying to balance it on a spoon? Only then to hear the heart-sinking line,
“That concludes the Nursery egg and spoon races, next is Reception”.
You’re kidding me, Reception? Reception has over sixty kids. Sonny is in Year One! Or as it’s now known, heat 112.
And it was Sonny who brought shame on the family this year, coming last. Twice. I know, it’s the taking part that counts, and that’s exactly what I told the random kid I had my arm around after the obstacle race, and whom I was now claiming to be my son. I would have told Sonny but he was still half-way back down the track, confused by a hula hoop. And if I’m being honest, by that point I’d already changed his surname by deed poll to that of Janet’s anyway.
But while Sonny gets his half-hearted effort from me, Luca has a steely determination that can only have come from Janet, and with it, stormed to victory in his sack race. All the more impressive given his sack was about two foot taller than he was. It was like watching a swimmer coming up for air every third stroke. Or a game of whack-a-mole.
I would have video footage but my phone battery was running in sync with my will to live and had died during heat 164 of the running races.
And then there’s the parent races. Dear God, if the CSA are still looking for absent fathers they’d do well to take a tour of school sports days. I swear there were more dads than kids, which makes me think there must be serial sports-dayers, traveling up and down the country competing for first place thumbs-up stickers.
This year was no less competitive than the previous ones. Sadly I had to sit it out due to the increasingly bad limp I’d
been working on succumbed to a few days prior. What can you do? I had a back-up plan too, which was to finish last, and so far behind as to then claim victory of the subsequent mums race.
Had they been taking bets I would have put my mortgage on the dad who arrived in a Diamond League running vest and spikes. And I would have lost, because he fell foul to a stray elbow and was last seen demanding an inquiry from a bemused classroom assistant.
And the mums were no less competitive either. For every high-heeled fun runner there was a ‘what this? No, I always do the school run bare-footed wearing Lycra’.
But I’m nothing if not supportive. On our way home I told Sonny about how I also finished last when I was his age after I lost a plimsoll mid-race and decided to go back and get it. And yet despite this I still went on to achieve sporting greatness.
I say last, I’m still claiming I was third, albeit in the subsequent space-hopper race because they DIDN’T HAVE THE DECENCY TO LET ME FINISH BEFORE STARTING THE NEXT RACE! Not that I’m bitter.
And by great things I mean Sale High School Triple Jump champion 1989. That no-one else managed to hop, skip and jump legally is irrelevant, the record books don’t lie. I’m still waiting for the school to invite me back to give an inspirational speech to their pupils. 2019 will mark 30 years since my life-defining moment. I’m awaiting their call.