Sunday January 21, 2018

Sometimes, I predict the future.

Jose R. San Miguel and Julius

While attending the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships in Mexico last week, I met Julius Rivera, a sprinter who lives in PA but who represents Puerto Rico.  Julius’ father used to hurdle at the University of Puerto Rico.  Julius was there to run the 100 and 200 meter races. He admitted that he intended to scratch the 200.

I challenged Julius to reconsider his position. What if you false start in the 100 mm? What if by some quirk in the rules of international competition you are disqualified?  It would be a long journey home if Julius did not completely maximize this opportunity. Under duress, he reluctantly agreed to compete in the 200 meters being contested on Saturday July 5.

On Friday morning while watching the pole vault, I saw Julius get into position for the men’s 100 mm race. I also saw him false start and get disqualified.

A few minutes later Julius walked by with his mom and dad, totally devastated. I reminded him of the great opportunity that awaited in the 200, and of my feeling that something big was going to happen.

Back at the hoteI, I committed to buy him a pizza if he set a PR in the 200 (the food at the hotel was not very good).  If he did not, he would have to sing a children’s song, in Spanish, in front of the team. Having grown up in PA, Julius’s Spanish is less than fluent.

On Saturday morning, I took the late bus to the stadium. Upon arriving, I learned that not only did Julius set a new PR, he also met the qualifying standard to compete at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon. This young man went from feeling intimidated by an event to making it to the greatest stage for a junior athlete.

I am proud of you Julius, for running the race of your life.


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