Mr Tai, the teacher in charge of athletics at SUKK Temarah, was getting on in
years. He had just celebrated his 58th birthday -- an age which many would think
seriously of retiring. However, it was not so with Mr Tai. He had an
illustrious record of athletic achievements
in the school sports scene. Some of the students he had coached had become
national runners or even coaches themselves. The School Board concurred with his
sentiments of not retiring as they did not want to lose the services of someone
who had successfully led the school athletics team to reach the finals of the
National Athletics Competition.
In the year before, however, the school team
did not garner as many medals in the National Athletics Championship as
expected. To make up for this disappointment, Mr Tai was determined to have his
runners bring as much glory as they could in this year's National Athletics
Championship. His hopes were fired with enthusiasm this year by two promising
star athletics, Farid and Hassan, who happened to be twins.
In the Annual School Sports, Farid broke the school's twenty-year record for
the 100 meters event. His brother, Hassan, was just a fraction of a second
behind. Since Hassan had a recurring ankle injury, Mr Tai decided to submit only
Farid's name to the finals of the National Athletics Championship. On the day he
submitted the results of the best runner in the school, he mistakenly wrote
Hassan' name instead.
When Mr Tai received the list of the finalists in the 100-metre event in the
National Athletics Championships, he realized his mistake. However, it was too
late to inform the sports secretariat. Pride also did not allow him to admit his
mistake to Farid. He decided to inform his brother, Hassan, and start grooming
him in the final preparations for this prestigious
When Farid learnt that he was not a finalist, he could not believe his ears.
Even though he was glad that his brother had qualified, he was bitterly
disappointed. To make matters worse, Mr Tai did not give him any reasons for his
exclusion in the finals. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Farid as he
realized that his hopes for athletic glory were dashed.
His moroseness was further compounded
when he heard that his fellow athletes had believed a rumor that he had been
dropped from the list because of discipline problems. Depressed, he lost
interest in his athletic practices and withdrew from his friends. His studies
also suffered as his listlessness affected his academic performance.
One day, his best friend, Wen Yi, pulled him aside to have a talk. Hassan
poured out his grievances and sadness to Wen Yi who then encouraged him to
arrange a meeting with Mr Tai. However, Mr Tai tried to avoid meeting Hassan.
The teacher did not want to admit his mistake. When Hassan finally managed to
confront Mr Tai, the latter consoled Hassan superficially and tried to make him
accept that his brother was the better choice.
Farid did not do well in the National Finals. His old ankle injury cropped up
at the last minute and he came in last. The school's athletics performance was
at its worst that year. Mr Tai was not appointed the athletics coach the
As for Farid, he withdrew from pursuing a promising athletics career. He did
well enough to qualify for college and joined the Cadets. However prestigious
his heart remained with running and throughout his life, he was embittered for
he knew that Mr Tai had made a mistake and did not stand up to him.