Yesterday, was an angst filled day at Turf City as we faced yet another sporting upset.
Our C-Div boys placed 4th and our B-Div boys placed 3rd in both division titles.
While we're still strong in the Top 4, this is the first time in donkey years (19 in fact) that VS has NOT taken either a C-Div or B-Div Championship title.
In fact, we have on occasion taken BOTH C-Div and B-Div Championship titles and have done so for the last 2 years.
The chain has been broken but what a show of spirit the boys gave. We did not win but let's not discredit ourselves because 3rd and 4th placing shouldn't be seen as a loss either!
It has been reported in papers that the other competing schools disntinguished themselves by 'the manner in which they crossed the finishing line. Even though they were tired, they stood and smiled encouragingly at each other.'
Let me tell you about crossing finishing lines.
It's easy to stand around and smile encouragingly at each other at the finishing line- heck, what do you think our boys have been doing at the finishing line for the past 19 years when we maintained our unbroken winning streak?
But, I mean, when you are in a good leading position, that's the natural thing to do; so we never made a big deal about it.
But I digress, let me tell you about crossing finishing lines.
With our first 3 runners coming in at about 2nd, 7th and 8th, we stood a good chance to fight for 1st and 2nd placing. However, as Thomas Ho, our 3rd runner was poised to cross the finishing line, he collapsed from sheer exhaustion about 15m from the finishing line.
Lying motionless, the anguished Victorian crowd cheered him on- with Principal, Mr Low, himself there to spur him on.
It has been reported in the papers that our rival schools have ingrained their athletes with the notion that 'Champions don't collapse"
Precious seconds ticked by as our Victorian lay motionless.
As the other runners lapped Thomas, the chances of clinching our B-Div Championship title faded further and further away. But deep in our hearts we knew that we were priviledged to witness a struggle here bigger than the race, bigger than the entire Cross-Country Championships itself.
As we saw Thomas struggle to lift himself up, we knew that we were about to see how
one single, minute individual can overcome the finite capabilities of the body and touch infinity by becoming something greater than himself, and how a thousand individual hearts can beat together- as ONE.
Thomas took in all the reserves of his strength to gather to his feet. Our roars and our cheers pulsing in heart, mind and soul.
Tapping into the deepest core of his being, he willed himself to stand and stand tall.
Taking a hesitant step, he pushed forward and headed on. Just a few metres before the line, Thomas fell-Again.
They tell us that 'Champions don't fall"
But Thomas was there on the ground. He was spent. He knew there was no way he could stand.
But the race was not over, we who play the Sportsmen's game know that we run every race to the finish.
They tell us that 'Champions don't fall"
We watched with blazing pride as time stood still and Thomas reached out with his hands to crawl and haul his body across the finish line. His feet may have failed him but his soul did not.
In his spent and almost delirious state, his first words were:
"How did we do?"
"Sorry, I fell"
So let me tell you about crossing finishing lines-
1)Team before self.
2)Taking ownership for our actions: both success and failure.
3)Giving all you have and then some more.
THAT is the Victorian Spirit in word, action and deed.
The world would have you believe that champions don't fall.
The world would have you believe that encouragement consists of a pat on the back when you're doing well.
Victoria School begs to differ:
We tell you and we ingrain in you:
We say "Boys, we EXPECT you to FALL- otherwise, how will you be able to stretch your limits?"
Because in your time with us, we are going to make Men out of you and push you to your limits and beyond. You will be something more in word, action and deed.
We say "It's not how many times you fall that we're worried about; it's how many times you get up"
We say "The difference between a winner and a champion is that the Winner got the medal, the Champion won the race."
We say encouragement isn't about patting ourselves on the back when we do well; it's telling ourselves to do better when we are facing difficulty.
Just look at our boys cheering away at Turf City. You would think that we had walked away with the B and C Division Championship medal from the way we cheer!
It is with a fierce Victorian pride in my heart as I challenge anyone else out there to show this level of 'encouragement' when YOU LOSE.
We are often imitated, sometimes replicated but we can never be duplicated!
They say 'Champions don't fall down'; we say that "It is getting up from your falls that make you champions"
That is the difference in coaching philosophy between the arrogance of winning schools and resilience of champion schools.
Yesterday, it's true we were definitely not winners... we were something more.