The track was relatively deserted when I got to Ultra Wednesday night. The rugby and frisbee teams were on break; hence, only one single floodlight was turned on. I usually do my hurdle workouts at the 100m straightaway, far from the maddening crowd near the entrance. With the lack of illumination, I was forced to setup the hurdles near the security guard’s desk.
When the exuberant watch lady told me to bring back the hurdles where I got them, I was subtly pissed. Her tone of voice implied that I was an ignorant amateur. There and then I decided to do my hurdle workout in front of the prying eyes of the security guard. I saw her murmur and beckon to the maintenance men as I placed the hurdles in its proper places. I felt the anger boil, raring for a confrontation. I took off my earphones and asked the lady guard in the most authoritative tone I could muster.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Is it forbidden to use the hurdles?”
She asked if I was an athlete. She said something about asking permission from her first. This got me riled up. Here I was toiling amidst monotony and ignominy for a sport no one cares about. For someone to threaten and interrupt my workout – to be treated as a petulant child – was simply unnacceptable.
“I’ve been training at this stadium for the last eight years,” I replied as I kept my emotions in check. “This is the first time I got chided for using the hurdles.”
She instantly toned down her confrontational words. All she wanted was for me to return the hurdles where I got it, not leaving the barriers in the middle of the track.
“Of course I’ll put them back,” I retorted. “I always do.”
By this time, I could feel the eyes of the other track users looking at us. I was glad I kept my composure. The guard finally understood that I was far from an ignorant track & field practitioner and left me to train in peace.
But I wasn’t at peace. I was fuckin’ pissed. All of a sudden, the frustrations of the past few months were at the boiling point. The encounter with the security guard riled up my emotions. I’ve had enough, I said. I used to be one of the best hurdlers in this fucking country. I was hell bent to show the handful of people in Ultra – and the exuberant guard – how good a hurdler I still am.
For the next half hour, I cleared hurdles like a man possessed, grunting with each barrier cleared. I threw away all notions of modesty, putting on a badass display of hurdling in front of the dozens of eyes looking at me. I was beyond caring.
Thankfully, my Team Hwa Liong teammate and friend Riezel came. Seeing a familiar face brought me out of my spell. I calmed down and took a breather.
Heaven knows what could have happened have I lost my temper. Thankfully, I didn’t. I just kept in mind that the last thing I want is to alienate myself from the only local stadium where I can do hurdles. Humility, after all, is the quickest way out of a dicey situation.