Giant on the move
An out-of-body experience
The pressure was so great and the adrenaline so overwhelming that mind and body separated and led separate lives.
It was always best to avoid me before races but at the Olympics, I was nearly delirious from the pressure. My body would tremble for days before the race and my mind couldn’t escape thinking through my race plan over and over again. I probably ran the 800 in my head a thousand times before setting foot on the track.
In the stadium, my senses grew numb, the world slowed, colours disappeared and sounds blurred.
I know there were a 100,000 people in the stadium but I couldn’t see them. I know they rumbled but I couldn’t hear them. All I saw were eight lanes and seven competitors and all I could smell was the unmistakable odor of the track.
Once the gun went off, the world grew nearly silent. All I heard were spikes clacking, the wind rushing and my heart pounding.
When I crossed the finish line, the magic would come once again Colours, sounds and smells returned. The joy of accomplishment released my mind and body from its trap immediately and for the first time I was able to apprecite how great the Olympics really are.
The Olympics are addictive. Before I raced, I wished I was sitting in the stands, just watching. But in Beijing, I’ll be in the stands and wish I was on the track. It’s a vicious circle. The adrenaline is a hallucinogen, in the best sense of the word.
The tension, the climax and the release are so tremendous that when it’s over, you wish you could start all over again.
Balazs Koranyi was an Olympic semi-finalist in the 800 at the 1996 and 2000 Games for Hungary and since 2004 has been a Budapest-based correspondent, covering mainly political and business news. He will cover the Beijing Games for Reuters.
Picture of crowd at Sydney Olympic stadium in 2000 by Mike Blake.