Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Julia Lucas Writes about Hassan Mead and the Value of Sport

I still believe in the value of sport. There’s just too much evidence to deny it. Nelson Mandela used Rugby to help unite post-apartheid South Africa. Low-cost sports like Boxing and Running were tools to uplift neighborhoods during the Great Depression. Title IX laws helped redefine the female form. These are more than history lessons. In my deeply democratic heart, there is nothing more hope-inspiring than stickball on East Harlem side streets or the subtle culture of pickup basketball in The Cage on West 4th st. Still, in particularly sad or angry or hopeless moments, trying to pen the power of sport feels silly. People are being gunned down on the street and I’m writing about jogging. It feels like a joke. • The picture up there is my friend and former teammate Hassan Mead. He’s one of those guys whom everyone’s always rooting for. The guy you want on your side. Always kind. Always thinking of his teammates. Always positive and uplifting at practice. Earlier this week, after 13 years of training, he dropped out of the Olympic Trails 10k. It was hot. He responded badly. For some reason it hit him harder than it did the other bodies in the pack, and he went from the lead group to flat on his back in a matter of minutes . • Yesterday, he got a second shot. Though rattled and despondent after the 10k, his teammates and coach rallied around him and convinced him he still had a chance of making the team in the 5k. It wasn’t as good a chance as the 10k, admittedly, but it was something. And he made it. In a bigger surge and sprint than anything I’ve ever seen come from those legs, he made his first Olympic Team. He crossed the line, smiled, dazed. Then he walked straight to the side of the track, to his college coach who had jumped the fence separating the fans from the athletes, and started sobbing into his arms. In the background you can see the reporters surrounding Barnard Lagat, the race winner. Lagat’s a great story in his own right, a 41 year old father and a Kenyan-American. But it is this quiet moment that makes me believe myself again. Look at Hassan's hand. The world around them is still sad and angry and unfair, but this is pure. . .📸: @finley1188

A photo posted by Julia Lucas (@justrunjulia) on

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