Imagine the world, filled with darkness, only lit by the stars and the street lights, flickering like torches in the night sky. There is a river, as smooth as glass, and reflecting everything that lies above it as clearly as if it was another world. Suddenly, there is a noise, silent at first, but becoming louder. It is the sound of the sleek rowing shells, gliding through the water, along with the clicking of the oars, as they slide into place, pulling the water with every stroke. They are accompanied on the river only by each other and their coach. The sun begins to rise, and a sense of normalcy returns; it is time to go home, the practice is over, and they will gather here again in twelve hours, when the sun is sinking in the sky. This is the life that I live; rowing is what I live for, I’ve even placed third in the nation. I know that other athletes look at their sport as passionately as I do, however it was not always this way, I used to never be concerned with athletics at all, but now I’ve realized, sports are the great equalizer of men, any anyone can get the gold by playing hard and loving their sport.
For me, I used to do poorly in sports, and I never really enjoyed competing. Getting back into it, through rowing, was the hardest thing for me I had ever done up to that point. The rowers who win big races are often seen as slightly masochistic, to put it bluntly, they enjoy the pain, because it makes the victory so much better. My coach even says that rowing is like banging your head against a brick wall, good when you stop. This was the scariest part to me; I never thought I could achieve this insane mentality. I started rowing because my brother dragged me into it, I kept rowing because I had some success, and I’m still rowing because I’ve grown to love the sport, and the competition.
The waiting before a race is the only place in the world where an athlete can feel entirely confident he’ll win, and then lose to the last person he’d least expect. This is when we are all equal, no one is better than anyone else, no one has won yet, the medals are still at the podium, but there’s so much still to be proved. This is what I love, what all athletes love, winning the race. We are all pressured to succeed, however there can only be one gold medal, and the athlete who’s going to walk away with it in hand, I can promise you, loves their sport, and wants to win for themselves. And I know, as I launch my boat into the mirrored water, rowing into this other world, that I love my sport, and that I have every opportunity to get that gold as much as anyone else.
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