Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

FIELD and Track; World Championships – London 2017

I love the ten athletic field events. Track events are exciting, but their sport is competition with others. Field athletes compete to improve their best result  and to try to break a world record, and win the gold.Track runners run. Field athletes have to master several skills.

I thrill over the high jump and pole vault.  Although it only takes a few seconds to complete the event, I obsess over seeing an athlete fly through the air, arch their back, then flip their legs and pass over the bar. It’s like gravity weakens slightly for their ascent. They chose their event based on strength and skill. They practice, train, and enter events all to reach the pinnacle at the World Championships. It is inspirational to watch the results of sacrifice and determination.

How can a human being possible launch themselves and sail over a bar that is six inches below the ceiling in my living room? They approach like an antelope and somehow, reach the moon! Mulaz Essa Barshim, of Qutar, is on his way to outer space. As he approaches the bar on his runup, he looks like a feather. He is tall and skinny and takes a sort of bunny hop before launching himself. The next thing I know, the bar is still in place and Mulaz is on his back bouncing on the cushion. He has made it back from the stratosphere.

Sondra Parkovic or Croatia throws the discus. I watched her on television. She is limited to a 78 foot circle. She holds the disk in such a manner as to be able to release it at just the right moment. She draws back her arm then spins like an unleashed spring. The disk takes off like a flying saucer. It soars over a grassy field, comes to a landing. Officials hustle over to mark the spot. 220 feet! What an amazing feat. She smiles a smile of satisfaction. She may have thrown a disk a thousand times for this one throw.

Tomas Walsh or New Zealand hoists a 16 pound metal ball and cuddles it between his chin and neck. He has a special relationship with this object having cradled it thousands of times. He is hefty. I could tell this is his event even when he isn’t holding the ball. He has chalked his hand and neck. He spins and thrusts his arms out with the force of a cannon ball. He makes a stout grunt at the moment of his release. The official marks the crater at 7o feet! Walsh is cannon. He releases enough energy to rival a huge wrecking ball! I am totally in awe of this man.

Pawel Fajdek is a hammer thrower. There is a cage around him as he swings the weight on a cable so in case he accidentally lets go, the mesh will stop it. He stands in a seven foot circle and spins with both hands on the handle. His is a tornado. He releases and the object flies. He doesn’t really throw the hammer. He slings it like swinging a 50 pound of potatoes into the trunk of your car. 250 feet! Stupendous! I don’t get that much excitement on track events until just before the finish line.

Long Jumper Radek Juska, a Chek, takes off after running full blast down the track. His right foot hits the board and his is airborne. A full two seconds later, he lands feet first in a sand pit. Sand flies and the official is right there to spot the park where his heel landed.  He has flown 22 feet, a little shorter than Orville Wright’s first airplane. Radek pulls his legs out in front of him to catapault him forward and take advantage of his momentum. In all the field events, I most admire the physics that each athlete has mastered to get the most out of their body.

The German javelin thrower, Johannes Vetter, looks like a African Bushman as he launches a fiberglass spear. At precisely the right moment, his hand releases the spear to take advantage of the thrust force of his arm. The spear flies in a arc and in two seconds it pierces in turf. As it sailed, I wondered if it would keep going and become weightless in orbit around the earth.

The athletes fall into total relaxation once they have competed. When their loose or win, they have competed at the highest level. Disappointment only lasts a moment. The athletes congratulate each other. I am watching sportsmanship as well as feats of strength and beauty.

Compared to watching a three-hour baseball game, track events are faster.  All of them are over before even the fastest 100 yard dash.  As you can conclude from this essay, I’m a track fan.

Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.

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1 Comment

  1. Great post Dad, I didn’t watch these events, but now I feel like I have experienced some of it from your descriptive and enthusiastic writing.

    I remember as a teen, listening to you read from your journals. Even though we’re miles apart, I am getting that same feeling of experiencing your thoughts and feelings through your journal writings.

    I know my Dad through his words.

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