We started training for the SAISA Track and Field competition taking place at the American International School of Chennai in late October with heavy rains which forced us to move into the gym for some makeshift practices and splashing through the flooded field during early morning practices. During the December break, I kept up with my training by going on runs and HIIT workouts by myself. Then for the last month and a half before the competition, we persevered through practices with the unrelenting sun beating down on us. We knew that we had to bring our A-game to the competition because though we were the three-time reigning champions, some of our top athletes from last year left and the competition was tough. We knew it was going to be close, but we couldn’t have imagined how close it was going to be.
Traveling and Hosting
Traveling with 30 athletes ranging from 4th grade to 11th grade can be a hassle, therefore the team was split up into travel groups with a travel group leader. As a travel group leader, I had the responsibility of keeping track of my teammates, their passports, and making sure we got to the right place at the right time. Additionally, this year Talia and I, as the team captains, hosted with the 10 to 12-year-old girls team. This came with more responsibility, we had to help them prepare for the next few days, by helping them pack for the competition, put spikes in their shoes, make sure everyone ate healthily and got enough sleep, as well as help them mentally prepare for their races the next day since this was their first time competing in SAISA Track and Field.
The competition started with the 1500m races, and as a team captain, I warmed up with the younger athletes and gave them a pep talk before sending them off to marshaling for their race. After the race, it was my job to remind them to stretch and cool down after the races. In addition, the 1500m introduced me to another job I had as a team captain, comforting my teammates if they were not happy with how they ran their races. We then celebrated the start of the competition with the opening ceremony.
The only events that I had on the first day were discus and the 4x400m. During discus I ended up not throwing my best, which during practice was 20m, however, I still placed 4th overall with 17.50m as my farthest throw.
Then for the 4×400 relay, Sheruni, our fourth and fastest 400m runner was not able to run because she injured herself right before her 1500m race therefore Mali, a girl from the 10-12 age group, ran with us in the 15-19 race. Despite the last minute change, we ended up placing second with a time of 5:04.
Day 2 was my busiest day by far, I had the 800m, 200m prelims, 200m finals, and Shotput. Throughout the season I was struggling to reduce my time to match my personal best from last year, my seed time for the event was 2:59, almost 10 seconds off my last year’s personal best. My goal for this event was 2:50 and my splits for each lap were for that time. I ended up staying with my splits and staying behind a girl from Chennai until the last straight, where I pushed myself and overtook her in the last few meters of the race. My time was a new personal best: 2:47, placing me 4th overall. My next event was the 200m prelims, I was not expecting to make it into the finals because I don’t usually do sprinting events and I was in the slower heat. However, I won my heat, got a new PB, and I was the 6th fastest, meaning that I made it into the finals. I then had shotput, I was very excited for this event because I had the second best seed distance. My first throw was very good, I threw a 7.72m which is close to my personal best (7.85m), this placed me in first. The rest of my throws were mostly consistent, with my best throw (7.87m) beating my personal best by 2cm and winning the event. I have done SAISA Track and Field for 7 years and this was my first gold in an individual event.
The marshaling area before the 200m finals was a perfect display of what makes SAISA special, sportsmanship. Before the 15-19 girls race, all the 15-19 boys and girls from all different teams had a group huddle for good luck before our races. After setting up our starting blocks and a few accelerations, I took a deep breath and waited for the starting gun. In the last few meters, I caught up to the 5th place runner. After finishing the race, I thought I had still placed 6th however during the medal ceremony it was announced that I had tied for 5th with a time of 31.49.
The events I had on the last day were the 400m and the 4x100m relay. I find the 400m the most difficult race because it is a long sprint. The toughest part about the event was that I was again in the slower heat which meant I didn’t have as much competition and I had to run against the clock because the event is a timed final. I got a new PB, 1:09, 2 seconds faster than my previous PB from 2 years ago, placing me 4th. For the 4x100m relay again we were down one person because Sheruni was injured, another 10-12 year old ran for her in our race, Liesl. Liesl was very nervous and demotivated for this race since she was running against girls who were 4 to 7 years older than her so I spent a lot of time talking to her to motivate her for the race. Another challenge was that we had never practiced our relay changeovers with Liesl, we practiced them as much as we could before the race. No relay batons were dropped, we all ran our fastest and we ended up placing 4th.
The competition ended with a nailbiting final awards ceremony, we ended up coming 2nd by only 2/3rd of a point, OSC with 595.83 points and TAISM (Oman) with 596.50 points, the closest finish in SAISA history. Though the end result was disappointing, I had personally performed my best out of my seven years on the SAISA Track and Field team and I am ready to continue pushing myself next year.
Being a part of the Track and Field team allowed me to improve my middle distance running, sprinting, shotput, and discus skills. This season I not only improved my track and field skills I also had to challenge myself by improving my leadership skills as a team captain. My duties as a team captain consisted of leading warm-up and cool-down stretches at SAISA and during practice and motivating and cheering on my teammates.
Commitment and perseverance was very important throughout the season. In addition to the mandatory 3 times a week 2 hour practices, I went to at least one 6:30am morning practice before school a week as well as the optional shotput and discus practices after school on days when we did not have mandatory practice.
Link to Day 1 results and live streams
Link to Day 2 results and live streams