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The Height

This story talks about the feelings of an athlete as he pursues his dream. Read about a nerve-wracking day in Michael Stone’s life as he prepares to take the ultimate rest of his sports career It is an e-inspiring achievement that will leave you breathless His palms were sweating. He needed a towel to dry his grip. A glass of ice water quenched his thirst but hardly cooled his intensity. The astroturf he sat on was as hot as the competition he faced today at the National Junior Olympics. The pole was set at 17 feet. That was three inches higher than his personal best. Michael Stone confronted the most challenging day of his pole-vaulting career. The stands were still filled with about twenty thousand people, even though the final race had ended an hourearlier.
The pole vault is truly the glamorous event of any track and field competition. The sportsman combines the grace of a gymnast with the strength of a bodybuilder. Pole-vaulting also has the element of flying, and the thought of flying as high as a two-storeyed building is a mere fantasy to anyone watching such an event. Today it is not only Michael Stone’ reality and dream it is his quest. As long as Michael could remember, he had always dreamed of flying. Michael’s mother read him numerous stories about flying when he was growing up. Her stories were always the ones that described the land from a bird’s-eye view. Her excitement and passion for details made Michael’s dreams full of colour and beauty, Michael had this one recurring dream. He would be running down a country road. He could feel the rocks and chunks of dirt at his feet. As he raced down the golden-lined wheat fields, he would always outron the locomotives passing by. He would begin soaring like an eagle.

Where he flew would always coincide with his mother’s stories. His dad, on the other hand, was not a dreamer. Bert Stone was a hard-core realist. He believed in hard work and sweat. His motto: If you want something, work for it! From the age of fourteen, Michael did just that. He began avery careful and regimented weightlifting programme. He worked out every other day with weights, with some kind of running work on alternate days. The programme was carefully monitored by Michael’s coach trainer and father Michael’s dedication determination and discipline was a coach’s dream.
Besides being an honest student, Michael Stone continued to help his parents with their farm chores. Michael’s persistence in striving for perfection was not only his obsession but his passion. Mildred Stone, Michael’s mother, wished that he could relax a bit more and be that “free dreaming’ little boy. On one occasion she attempted to talk to him and his father about this, but his dad quickly interrupted, smiled and said, “You want something, work for it! All of Michael’s vaults today seemed to be the reward for his hard work. If Michael Stone was surprised, thrilled or arrogant about clearing the bar at 17 feet, you couldn’t tell As soon as he landed on the inflated landing mat, and with the crowd on its feet, Michael immediately began preparing for his next attempt at flight. He seemed oblivious of the fact that he had just surpassed his personal best by three inches and that he was one of the final two competitors in the pole-vaulting event at the Natiohal Junior Olympics.
Michael cleared the bar at 17 feet and 2 inches ànd 17 feet 4 inches; again he showed no emotion. Constant preparation and determination were his vision. As he lay on his back and heard the crowd groan, he knew the other vaulter had missed his final jump. He knew it was time for his final jump. Since the other vaulter had fewer misses, Michael needed to clear this vault to win. A miss would get him second place. Nothing to be ashamed of, but Michael would not allow himself the thought of not winning first place. He rolled over and did his ritual of three finger-tipped push-ups. He found his pole stood and stepped on the runway that led to the most challenging event of his seventeen year-old life. The runway felt different this time. It startled him for a brief moment. Then it all hit him like a wet bale of hay. The bar was set at nine inches higher than his personal best That’s only one inch off the National record,” he thought. The intensity of the moment filled his mind with anxiety. He began shaking off the tension from his body. It wasn’t working. He became more tense. “Why is this happening to me now?” he thought. He began to get nervous. Fear would be a more accurate description. What was he going to do? He had never experienced these feelings. Then out of nowhere, and from the deepest depths of his souls, he envisioned his mother. Why now? What was his mother doing in his thoughts at a time like this? It was simple. His mother always used to tell him whenever he felt tense, anxious or even scared, to take deep breaths.
So he did. Along with shaking the tension from legs, he gently laid his pole at his feet. He began to stretch out his arm and upper body. The light breeze that was once there was now gone. He could feel a trickle of cold sweat running down his back. He carefully picked up his pole. He felt his heart pounding. He was sure the crowd did, too. The silence was deafening. When he heard the singing of some distant robins in flight, he knew it was his time to fly. As he began sprinting down the runway, something felt wonderfully different, yet familiar. The surface below him felt like the country road he used to dream about. The rocks and chunks of dirt, the visions of the golden wheat fields seemed to fill his thoughts.

When he took a deep breath, it happened. He began His take-off was Michael Stone was flying, just a in his childhood dreams. Only this time he knew he wasn’t dreaming. This was real. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. The air around him was the purest and freshest he had ever sensed. Michael was soaring with the majesty of an eagle. It was either the eruption of the people in the stands or the thump of his landing that brought Michael back to earth. On his back with that wonderful hot sun on his face, he could only envision the smile on his mother’s face. He knew his dad was probably smiling too, even laughing. Bert would always do that when he got excited, smile and then sort of giggle. What he didn’t know was that his dad was hugging his wife and crying. He was crying harder than Mildred had ever seen before. She also knew he was crying the greatest tears of all: tears of pride.
Michael was immediately swarmed with people hugging and congratulating him on the greatest accomplishment of his life. He later went on that day to clear 17 feet 6(1/2)” National and International Junior Olympics record inches With all the media attention and heartfelt congratulations, Michael’s life would never be the same. It wasn’t just because he won the National Junior Olympics and set a new world record. And it wasn’t because he had justincreased his personal best by 9Viinches. It was simply because. ..Michael Stone was blind.

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Mallikarjuna

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