“On your marks…” The crowd was intensified with silence, I was prepping myself for the 100m sprint, my aim was to get into top three, number one would be nice. “Get set…” I knew my stand, I practised my heart out, just for this moment of my career, I would not get beat down just as last year, I would do my best, for my country, Malaysia boleh! I shouted internally, my gaze fixated at the finish line.
“GO! PHEWTT!” my foot sprung to life, springboard me to a moderate start, I did not look to the sides, the adrenaline crashed into my system, kicking me into an overdrive mode during the middle of the tracks, reveries of celebration coruscated through my mind as I accelerated past a few competitors. Eyes on the finish line, zeroed in with full force, with a few other runners sprinting in a single file horizontally. Malaysia boleh! I roared inside me, bent my head into an aerodynamic position, plunging myself into finishing this race, grandiosely.
“Mohammad is hurt. You go. Break the tie.” An averring pat was sent to my back, shouldering the weight of the country on my number 21 jersey. I pulled up the flag on my jersey, kissed it, and marched into the field. Mohammad broke his knee due to a foul by the opposing player.
I substituted him as a striker, right wing. The score was 2-2, 90 minutes, at additional time of three minutes, three golden minutes. The free kick was a 90 yard shoot, about to be taken by our top scorer, Faiz. I cracked my head, popped my knuckles, striding into a fight for glory. Time was ticking, we could not endure extra times, we are going to win this, now.
Faiz took the shot, I was running into position, perhaps picking off a lucky shot in the right position. The ball sped across the field with impulsive velocity, curving violently when it crashed into the goalkeeper’s hands. The ball flew across the air, Ali took a clinical header, but was blocked and sent out by the defenders.
I spot a blunder in their play, the ball was sent into an empty area, I rushed there, got a touch with the ball, carrying it solo into the penalty area, dribbling off couple of players in the process. One of the opposing players was attempting to break my legs, his leg slid across the grass in front of me, almost disabling me from the ball, I sent the ball flying into the top corner of the goal, leaving the goalkeeper no chance to catch it. The tumultuous cheer from the Malaysians reverberated the stadium, I reveled in joy after the final whistles was blown, shedding tears of joy for our nation, Malaysia.
21-15, 19-21, 20-20. We looked at each other, match point… we thought as we took our positions, beads of sweat rolling down our hands, gripping our rackets firmer as ever. We looked at the crowds cheering for us, the ‘Malaysia Boleh’ feel surged into our veins, We can do it. We nodded in assent, pinning our daunting stare into our opponets soul.
They faltered under pressure, the failed to serve for the third time, the judge handed us a new shuttlecock to battle with. 21-20, My hands were shaking, anxiety stroke, crushing my very soul out of me, jittering with fear of losing. I took a deep breath, looking around at our fellow Malaysians cheering for me, I’m not alone. I served to the right, they responded with a high ball, I saw the opportunity, I rushed to the front of the net, smashing the ball right into their dead right, claiming the title at a swift heartbeat.
Image courtesy : http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2156447