I was introduced to the javelin as perhaps my hidden talent in field sports. I had no problem with it as such and thought that I did quite well with it. It used to cover a considerable distance and always seemed to land “sharp end” first which was a bonus. My javelin career, like my discus career, was very short lived!
My school friend Phil and I (Phil was also moved to javelin due to an apparent lack of alternatives) decided to practice on our own. Given that our sports field was used for training pupils for various sports at the same time, common sense dictated that we find a “quiet” stretch of grass where we could practice our throws.
Just before the school fence (that my discus flew so gracefully over*) was a short slope down to the field area. From our perspective it was a short slope up to the school fence, and on that slope were large patches of dandelions.
Phil and I soon got tired of just throwing the javelin as far as we could and so looked for a way to make it more interesting. The dandelion patches! Our goal now was to not only hurl the javelin as hard as we could into flight, but aim it such that whoever landed it closest to the centre of the designated dandelion patch was the winner in our little private competition!
We knew that a javelin flying over the fence would be frowned upon and so, not wishing to repeat my discus incident, we started well back from the fence. Based on our known capabilities, we made sure that it was highly unlikely that either of us could send it over the fence.
While I can recall this very clearly, I do not recall Phil and I ever discussing a sequence of events for our private javelin competition. Who was going to throw first? We were two 14 year old boys having a some fun because we were being left alone to play with a couple of javelins.
I started the run up to our “throw/release line” and hurled the javelin as hard as I could. After a second or two of watching it arc its way towards the dandelion patch, I started to run after it so that I could see exactly how close it landed to our “target”.
What I did not know was that, as I was running towards the dandelion patch, Phil was running to launch his javelin. I reached the dandelion patch and stopped and turned (probably to shout to Phil how close I was) when his javelin landed. My right foot was pinned to the ground!
One of our Phys. Ed. Teachers saw it land and came running over. He was clearly puzzled because while he could see the javelin protruding from the top of my running shoe, I was not making any noise! I can well imagine that I was in some degree of shock at the sight, but was not feeling anything. I remember the resulting conversation so well:
Him: Aren’t you in pain?
Him: Brace yourself because I am going to give the javelin a little twist.
Him: Didn’t you feel that at all?
Him: I am going to pull it out. If you feel anything, let me know ok?
(He removed the javelin)
Him: You didn’t feel anything did you?
Him: Take your shoe off.
Him: There’s nothing there. Take your sock off.
Him: You are one very lucky boy!
The point of the javelin had gone in the gap between my big toe and its neighbor without breaking any skin!
I cannot imagine what the odds were of that happening, so I am simply convinced that “somebody” was looking after me on that sunny Thursday afternoon!
*See Post “Dear Diary – Page 40” – August 26, 2015