4.

Joaquim: I have been telling the athletes to treat their body nicely. Your body is going to take you where you want to go. Sometimes when you cannot do things in sport, it is because your body does not know yet. So be nice to it.

The year 1983 was my first year competing in Europe in the European season. The World Championships race was really good for me because the night before I spent all night long racing! In my mind, I only raced one way: from the front. The way I visualised it, I would take the lead and race from the front from start to finish. When the English kid took the lead, somehow he broke my concentration. So going into the Olympics in 1984, I had to change my mental preparation so that I would not always be putting pressure on myself to take the lead. I thought about all this strategy.

My last workout before the Olympics, I did 600 metres in 1:14. I went 48 seconds for the first 400. That was good, but more impressive was my 400 I did two minutes after that. I was supposed to rest for four minutes, but after the 600, the more I waited, the more the lactic acid would build up in my legs. So I asked my coach, "Can I go now? I don't want to wait any longer." And I did 400 in 52. That workout gave me the indication that I was ready to go. All I had to do was to work on my mind, and rest when I was supposed to rest, and use my energy at the right time.

After the Olympics, I raced in Europe. In Cologne I tried to break the world record for 800 metres. That day I was not feeling well. Five minutes before the race, I went to my coach and asked him to get me out of the race because I was not feeling what I was supposed to be feeling. I was not nervous at all, no anxiety, nothing. That worried me. I missed the world record by 400th of a second, and I had to laugh, of course. I really don't care about the world record. I got my Olympic gold medal.

Sri Chinmoy: To me, the Olympics is infinitely more important than the World Championships. The Olympics gives us such a thrill. We do not get the same thrill when somebody breaks the world record. The very word 'Olympics' inundates us with tremendous joy and inner thrill. The way people utter the word 'Olympics', there is so much excitement in it. World records do not inspire us in the same way.

Joaquim: The world record they take from you. The Olympic gold they will never take from you.

Sri Chinmoy: I had a great desire to watch the Olympics. God has blessed me by making it possible for me to attend four Olympic Games — Montreal, Los Angeles, Seoul and Atlanta. I thought one would be enough, but when Sudhahota [Carl Lewis] came into my life, I went to Los Angeles to offer him my prayerful support and encouragement. He meditated with me before his events. I was a little bit hesitant to go to Seoul, but Sudhahota came to New York and meditated with me. He told me I must come. So I listened to him. Then afterwards I went to Atlanta to watch his final performance. I will never forget Atlanta.

May I ask you, did you ever feel Grace, divine Grace, in your running or do you feel it was all your personal effort? Before you ran, or during your races, did you ever feel that something else was happening in and through your speed? I call it Grace, divine Grace. It is the feeling that Somebody is acting in and through you, Somebody is inspiring you to run the fastest. Or you were not aware of it?

Joaquim: I always try to perform for somebody that I love. I use my body to express myself, to communicate my best qualities, physical and mental. In 1984 I met Mary, the girl who became my wife, and I was in love. And when I went on this challenge, it was like I was a warrior, a knight, who went on these fights, and I knew everything was going to be okay, I was going to overcome the challenge.

And in Los Angeles, on odd occasions, it was like my soul would leave my body and get into somebody else's body and I would watch myself performing through somebody else's eyes. I was running, but I was watching myself through somebody else. This is very hard to explain, but when you do that, you want to look good — right? And that was why in my race I made it look easy, effortless. Everyone said after the race, "Gosh, you make running look so easy!" But it was mainly because I was trying to show off. When you are running well, you are capable of that. Your soul leaves your own body and sits on the stand and watches your body perform. But when you are not running well, you can't do that. You request every help possible.

I have always been very spiritual. I went to church — I would not say a lot, because I used running as a way to exercise my faith, my spiritual side. Every time I went on a ten mile run, I was doing that. The other runners could not understand it. They would say to me, "How can you run ten miles on a 400-metre track? Don't you get bored?" I said, "No, when I am running there, my mind is far away. My body is doing it, but my mind goes some place else." So it was very easy for me to do, and not too many kids can do that. I was able to do it. I don't know if that answers your question.

Sri Chinmoy, The inner meaning of sport.First published by Agni Press in 2007.

This is the 1565th book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.

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by Sri Chinmoy
From the book The inner meaning of sport, made available to share under a Creative Commons license

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