Track and Battle-Field

by Jane Zhang '2023

Shot-puts and disci are the smoke and explosive grenades of track and field: shot-puts are heavy, metallic balls that weigh up to 7.26 kilograms, while disci are lighter, metallic frisbees that weigh up to 2 kilograms. Although grenades are extremely useful in battle, improper form and technique can cause throwers to strain their back, wrist, forearm, bicep, or shoulder. Thus, only qualified people who undergo intense training and discipline can utilize these weapons; I am proud to say that I am one of these select few. Most soldiers prefer to join the running, jumping, or pole vaulting squads, but I chose to enlist under the throwing force in my freshman year of high school. Due to the selectivity and difficulty of throwing, there are only 15 throwers among a battalion of 250 soldiers.

After four gruesome months of battling our surrounding enemies in the district, all weapons have been exhausted on both sides, and the only hope for victory is to tactically throw a smoke and explosive grenade to tip the scale towards my troop’s triumph. My comrades wearily turn towards me, counting on me to bring this war to an end by throwing at least one successful grenade of each type, with four attempts each.

I step into the throwing ring, take a deep breath—smelling the iron-rich stench of blood from the previous gory clashes —and get into position. I bring the grenade up to the area between my neck and my shoulder and prepare to throw the explosive device. While feeling the hundreds of pairs of eyes staring at me, I hurl the perilous weapon with all of my might, simultaneously releasing a scream of confidence and power.

All eyes instantly switch their focus to the gold-colored smoke grenade flying through the air, as if the weapon is the golden snitch.

Everyone’s heads draw a semicircle following the path of the grenade. When the smoke grenade lands on the target, my comrades erupt with a massive roar of excitement and content, but the war has not been settled, yet.

The smoke grenade only impacts the opponents close to us, so now I must use the lighter, explosive grenade to throw it towards the enemies who are at a further distance away. I usually land the explosive grenades in the intended area on the first try, so I arrogantly swagger into the ring, without any doubt or hesitation.

I gracefully go through the movements to throw the grenade, only to find out after the first attempt that I have competition: the wind. To determine the direction of the wind, I lick my pointer finger and put it up into the air. I come to the conclusion that the wind is blowing east—towards my right. I throw the grenade, releasing it slightly later than usual to allow for the wind to carry the grenade slightly to the right. Feeling proud of myself for releasing the grenade when I meant to, I smile, but all of a sudden the wind changes directions, causing my grenade to fly along a different path than I had intended. I only have two more chances to win this long-sought victory.

The wind has stopped blowing, allowing me to concentrate on hitting my target without needing to compensate for any external factors. The atmosphere intensifies and murmurs of the crowd slowly hush to a dead silence. Once again, I throw the grenade, but this time with more determination than ever, knowing that I only have two more tries and all my comrades are counting on me to win this battle. I try to look away, afraid to witness another failed throw, but at the same time I am curious to see the result. I anxiously take a peek at the grenade as it glides through the air in slow-motion; the grenade lands bulls-eye on my target.

Screams of agony from the contending army translates to sounds of victory to my ears. Consequently, my comrades explode with joy from the realization that they have another week to live.

Throughout my life, I never thought that I would join the army or track and field; I certainly did not plan on becoming one of the few throwers who utilize grenades, shot-puts, or disci as their main weapon. Compared to everyone else in the battalion who endures more physical exertion, throwers appear lazy and useless, despite the fact that throwers bear the key to winning. Unfortunately, history repeats itself: competing sides are neck to neck and the only way for one army to emerge victorious over the other is for the throwers to tip the scale. Undeniably, grenades are just as important in battles as artillery units are, and shot-puts and disci are essential for a track and field team to succeed. Instead of viewing the track and field team as a vertical hierarchy with the runners at the top and throwers at the bottom, give some respect to the people who have the patience to be buff ballerinas that throw objects really far.

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