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Man in the Arena..!
By Robert Clements
His name was Mansoor and he was my best friend in school. A little fellow, compared to me, who was lean and lanky, he was short and squat.

Mansoor was a fighter, he could knock out any guy in class, and most kept away from his tough hands. But one sport Mansoor wasn’t good at was at high jump.

We tall guys were better off, and as we cleared the pole, I would see Mansoor looking with envy, wishing he could do the same, but his height was a deterrent.

One day Mansoor turned to me and said, “Bob, I’m going to be the next high jump champion!” He should have said it a little softer, but knowing Mansoor, I guess he didn’t care who heard, “You’re too short!” I said, and then seeing his fists tightening, smiled at him, “You are a champion anyway,” I quickly said, “You don’t need to win at high jump too!”

“I will,” he said and later I heard he had set up a rope at home over which he practiced everyday.

Sports day came, and my classmates laughed when they saw pint sized Mansoor lined up against the tall giraffes of the class. “What’s Mansoor doing there?” they asked.

“He’s going to jump!” I whispered and sniggered along with them.

We watched as Mansoor did his first jump, and kicked the pole, he did the same with the second and also with the third. It was over; he’d failed. I walked up to him, put my arm on his shoulder and we slowly walked away as the others jeered.

It was the next day when our Physical Training instructor, called the whole class together, “You guys were great,” he said, “But do you know who the real champ was?” The class was puzzled as he pointed to tiny Mansoor, “Now,” he said I want to read to you all the words of Teddy Roosevelt, former president of the United States,

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

There was pin drop silence amongst us, then one by one we started clapping, turning to little Mansoor who smiled at his PT instructor and then at the rest of us.

The next year, Mansoor was the high jump champ..!

News Updated at : Tuesday, October 2, 2012
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