Nine Gold Medals (Poem) by David Roth
Introduction .. Sports and games are meant to foster brotherhood, understanding, and compassion. But, it is disheartening to note how the urge to succeed and grab medals has become the sole objective of competitive sports. In the quest for the top prizes, athletes adopt unfair means, develop needless rivalry, and forget that the competitor needs to be looked upon with kindness, bonhomie, and sympathy.
This short and sweet poem narrates how a group of nine differently abled sprinters taking part in a 100-meters dash event have demonstrated, through their conduct, the great virtue of empathy, cooperation, and fair-play. The poem gives an universal message of the best of human values.
The athletes had come from all over the country
To run for the gold, for the silver and bronze
Many weeks and months of training
All coming down to these games.
Explanation .. Athletes from far and wide had gathered to take part in a competition. All of them had worked hard and set their eyes on the gold, silver and bronze medals. In the build-up for the meet, they all had slogged hard to reach the peak of their performance.
The spectators gathered around the old field
To cheer on all the young women and men
The final event of the day was approaching
Excitement grew high to begin.
Explanation .. It was a old venue. Spectators had come in droves to cheer the athletes. The day was drawing to a close. Only the last event was left. A feeling of excitement filled the air. Everyone waited expectantly.
The blocks were all lined up for those who would use them
The hundred-yard dash and the race to be run
These were nine resolved athletes in back of the starting line
Poised for the sound of the gun.
Explanation .. The galleries were full. The 100-yard race, the king of all events was about to start. Nine well-trained athletes proceeded to take their positions on the blocks. With baited breath, they waited for the gun shot sound.
The signal was given, the pistol exploded
And so did the runners all charging ahead
But the smallest among them, he stumbled and staggered
And fell to the asphalt instead.
Explanation .. The pistol was fired. The athletes sprang to their feet and raced ahead with all their energy. Sadly, the smallest among the nine stumbled and fell on the asphalt. An unexplained pain had crippled him. For him, the race was lost.
He gave out a cry in frustration and anguish
His dreams and his efforts all dashed in the dirt
But as sure as I’m standing here telling this story
The same goes for what next occurred.
Explanation .. He shrieked in pain. Frustration and anguish gripped him worsening his excruciating body pain. All his sweat, and slog had come to naught. His dreams of winning a prize lay in ruins. He looked on helplessly.
The eight other runners pulled up on their heels
The ones who had trained for so long to compete
One by one they all turned around and went back to help him
And brought the young boy to his feet.
Explanation .. Something strange happened. The rest eight of the sprinters, who had trained as hard, noticed the plight of their crippled mate. They held back their surge, and turned around to the rescue of their battered friend. They helped him to stand on his feet. They lavished their care and comfort on him.
Then all the nine runners joined hands and continued
The hundred-yard dash now reduced to a walk
And a banner above that said (Special Olympics)
Could not have been more on the mark.
Explanation .. Thereafter, the whole contingent of nine sprinters walked their way to the finishing line holding one another’s hand. The banner that fluttered read ‘Special Olympics’. It was indeed special, because in no other Olympic, one could see fiercely competing athletes aborting their dream runs to aid a fellow athlete. It was a sacrifice of the rarest kind. It was a show of empathy of the most exemplary kind.
That’s how the race ended, with nine gold medals
They came to the finish line holding hands still
And a standing ovation and nine beaming faces
Said more than these words ever will.
Explanation .. The 100-yard dash came to a dramatic end heralding the victory of compassion and fairness over selfishness, and aloofness. All nine were awarded a gold medal each. The spectators gave them a rousing ovation for demonstrating the loftiest values of sports and games.