Annie was hopping about. The mat on the ground was nice and soft. “Good to bounce on”, she muttered, bouncing about.
This was Race Day. She had to win. She knew she could. She was fast. Even Jill, the tall girl standing beside her, said so. Annie liked Jill but she wanted to beat her to the line.
Annie’s palms were sweating. Her mouth was dry. Somewhere in the stand was her mum, dad, grannies and granddad’s along with most of her family. But she couldn’t think of them.
The man with the whistle was telling them to pay attention and get ready. She didn’t know if she liked him, she couldn’t see his eyes they were hidden under a huge peaked cap. Seeing people’s eyes was a deciding factor for Annie, because you knew by their eyes what they were thinking.
Annie was ready. They had practiced in the back garden and at school. Annie always won.
“Get set!” His voice boomed at her.
Annie faced the rippling tape at the end of the track. It looked very far away. She took a deep breath. The whistle blew.
Annie ran. She pushed her legs out as far as she could. She stared at that line. Tongue out, heart racing, it was getting nearer.
She was halfway down the track when she heard a shout, ” Come on Annie!”
Annie risked a peep to her right. There they were, Mum , Dad, her brothers and sisters, everyone. They were shouting her name. She stopped and squinted at them. They were shouting something at her and waving their arms. She waved back. She felt good. But then she heard the other runners catching up on her. She shouldn’t have stopped, should she? Annie felt afraid, so afraid she couldn’t move. Then she heard someone else say “Come on Annie, why did you stop!”
Taking hold of her hand, Jill looked down at Annie and smiled.
Together they trotted through the tape.
I have had the privilege of witnessing many events like this at Special Olympics, and my main stream athletes who came to assist on the day were blown away by the fun and competition.