Mexican Memoirs:No place for the long-distance stulla
Now I know what the athletes are feeling in the thin air of elevated Guadalajara.
On Monday night, the first day of track and field at the Telmex Athletics Stadium, I had finished for the day, left my workstation and had reached outside the building when the first blast of the cool night air hit me. I immediately realised that I had left by jacket on the back of my seat.
I quickly ran up the six flights of stairs that I had just come down, retrieved the jacket and hurried back down. It was almost nine o’clock, the whole area was new to me and I wanted to catch the last media bus to the Main Press Centre.
As I arrived at the foot of the last stair, I had to really steady myself. My chest was exploding, I could hardly breathe and my nostrils were on fire. I do not know how a heart attacks feels, but I certainly felt as if I was having one.
I had to sit for a while to gather myself and was soon feeling much better. Of course, the bus left me and I had to take a taxi to the press centre.
Earlier during the evening, sprinter Lerone Clarke was breathing very hard as I interviewed him after his 100 metres semi-final. I remember him saying that he had not tried to extend himself, but he was completely out of breath. At the end of the day, I had noticed that Claston Bernard and Maurice Smith were almost out on their feet after the 400 metres, the fifth and final event on just the first day of the decathlon. That was unusual.
The August-September trip to Daegu of my colleague, the self-proclaimed ‘long-distance stulla’, suddenly flashed across my mind. I could not help thinking that if he had tried the 800 metres here, the stretcher bearers would have had some urgent work to do, after, maybe, 300 metres.
Now we all can have some sympathy for young swimmer Zara Bailey, who said after the 400 metres individual medley heats here that it was her “most painful” swim ever. And for the female basketballers who, coach Richard Polack said, could not breathe in the first two games they had here.