Chinese Men Are Not Sprinters

Chinese Men Are Not Sprinters

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Chinese Men Are Not Sprinters

There are Chinese divers and Chinese gymnasts represented at the
Olympics every year, and we participate in a plethora of other sports,
but this one omission from the pantheon of athletes persists to this
day, in both national and international competitions. The Chinese do
not run.

Therefore, at the beginning of my second year on the track team, I
felt a little discouraged.

During my freshman year, every meet I attended had one common
denominator: the fast runners were African-American. Their long, lanky
limbs stood in sharp contrast to my own, genetically-predisposed
skinny and short ones. This, I thought, looking down at my legs, was
not the physique of a sprinter.

When my mother dropped me off at the High School track early one
Saturday morning, I had little hope. I set my gym bag down next to the
tree where my team had gathered, and I surveyed the field: typical --
stereotypical, even. The shining, muscular bodies glistened as they
stretched and warmed-up. My own legs trembled in the cold as I passed
the time by cheering on my own teammates, but it wasn’t long before I
heard the ominous “Last call for the 100 meters! Last call!” intoned
into a megaphone. Gulping hard, I walked over to the starting line and
surveyed the track in front of me. I wondered if the practicing I had
done since freshman year, exhausting my body with repeats,
conditioning, and weight-training every day, would have any benefit
when my shoes hit the pavement.

My competitors seemed to be doing their best to intimidate me. The
seven of them jumped up and down around me, towering into the sky and
stretching their formidable leg muscles. I pulled off my warm-ups, and
the cool air on my exposed skin made me shiver.

The next fifteen seconds seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. When I
was finished, I barely remembered running the race at all, and was

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only convinced that I actually did when my coach congratulated me on a
third place finish. I had come in just slightly above the middle of
the pack, despite genetics, despite everything. I realized that
sprinting had nothing to do with being African-American or
Chinese-American. My medal, which I received later that day, was
embossed with a winged shoe. That’s the best thing about shoes: no
matter who you are, you can always put on the same pair as anyone
else.
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