Thursday, 14 March 2013

A lesson from Wally Robinson

Very recently I came across the life story of Wally Robinson. His story appeared in Sports Illustrated in 1982. They were reporting the events in the Special Olympics conducted at South Bend, Indiana.

I found this life story as a fine example for explaining the spirit of sports, specifically race. We all know that race is often compared with our life. The spirit of athletic competitions is the participation, not winning as the first. The active participation in a race is the success.

If you participate in the race without bothering whether you finish first or last, you are in the right spirit. But who can enjoy a race like this while participating in it?
Life too must be enjoyed without worrying about the first position. Only those who participate in the race of life for running sake enjoy life. Running is happiness; not finishing as the first.
All those who are madly pursuing the first position lead a miserable life. In the race of life, there is no first position, there is no single winner, but there are winners.

Here is the life story of Wally Robinson who really enjoyed the race as a sport.

Five boys stood ready for the race at the starting line. Wally was one among them. Moments before the race began Wally looked straight up into the sky for reason unknown. Seeing this, the other four boys also stood looking into the sky. Then everybody in the stadium also followed them. There was nothing special in sky. The sky was blue decorated with white cotton patches here and there.

After staring at the sky for some moments, Wally finished it and looked far ahead into the horizon ready to start the race. Just then the gun goes off with a big bang and Wally took off running in full spirit and power. After going forward for some distance he felt something wrong with the race. He looked back and saw the four of his friends standing at the starting line, still gazing into the sky.

Wally saw no fun in running alone. This is a race. Running alone to the finishing point is not a race. The spirit of race is not finishing first, but participating in the race. A meaningful race needs someone to run with you.

So he turned back, stood there and yelled back at his fellow runners: "He guys, c'mon, there's nothing up there; c'mon let's go."  Suddenly the other boys realized their mistake and started running. Wally was excited to see others running towards the finishing point. He clapped his hand and encouraged them by standing where he stood: "C'mon, you can do it." He clapped and cheered.

As he was clapping and cheering, the four boys run right past him, and cross the finish line. Wally did not drop out. He too ran after them and he reached the finishing point in dead last.

What is winning without the spirit of race? What is winning without others running along with you? What is the meaning of winning without somebody else too winning?
Wally wanted the race more than winning as the first.

That night at the Special Olympics banquet an award was given to the boy who most represented the "Spirit of the Games" and the winner was Wally Robinshaw. The presenter said, "Show me a person with the heart and spirit of Wally. Show me a person who is not afraid to allow others to pass him by, and cheer them on...and I'll show you a WINNER."

Who is a real winner in life? The one who cheers others to win the race of life. The victory stand must not a lonely place. It must be a shared platform. We must have the humanity to invite the whole crowd to the victory stand.

Our words always must be: “If I can do it, you too can.”

Further reading:

Professor Jacob Abraham

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