There will be plenty of medals but no ‘Oscars’ at the Commonwealth Games this summer. I’ve been contemplating what I could offer in his place… if I were yet a younger man…
Well it won’t be sprinting. Never mind the 100 metres, I have history of mishaps over 22 yards. The cricket ball came arrowing towards me; I stroked it to mid-on and set off for the quick single. Much of me sprinted successfully up the wicket, but my prosthetic made its own call and stayed put (probably the so-called ‘intelligent ankle’, because there was never a run there, really.) Without a leg to stand on, my ‘dip for the line’ or ‘despairing dive’ started after just one stride, and mid-on strolled up to knock the bails off.
Back on the athletics track, I’d probably be treating the gravel rash on my nose while the tracksuited volunteers were helpfully removing my prosthetic from the starting blocks and trotting down the track after me to reunite us. So no sprinting for me at the Games. And there’s no cricket – though one really would have thought that The Commonwealth would have been able to muster up enough takers for a game.
So what else could I offer the swimming, hitting and jumping fest? Well I was House Swimming Captain at my school. No submersible prosthetics in those days, so I left my leg along with my inhibitions back in the changing rooms. Backstroke was my speciality. My front crawl was pretty decent too, but I had a tendency to wobble on the diving board at the start and lose valuable seconds. In backstroke, my left leg was very muscular and kicked hard, and my shorter right leg whizzed around, a bit like a propeller.
I’m also good at hitting. In the absence of cricket and tennis, I’d be pleased to compete in the badminton or table tennis. I’m not sure my prosthetist would be so pleased though, as playing badminton has caused the highest number of busted plastic feet throughout my life. I could give the table tennis a go, but I only ever played at a disability sports club I used to attend as a teenager – and was regularly beaten by a lad who sat in a wheelchair and held the bat between his teeth.
So maybe jumping? I have a cunning plan for the high jump. I’d leave the intelligent ankle at home and instead fix a pogo attachment to the bottom of my leg. I may not be at elite athlete level but, if the leg stays with me throughout the run up, with all that extra spring in my step, I’d be sure to be more Fosbury than flop!