The Competition and the Medal
Janet enjoyed riding her cute pink bicycle every Saturday, which her father had gifted on her 10th year birthday. After cleaning the house and eating her breakfast, which usually was buttered bread with jam and cold milk, she set out to ride with her friends. Most times, they would go to the amusement park and race in the open field.
Janet, who was now 12 and a student at the British International School in Lagos, was an only child. Her mum was a caterer, while her father was a medical doctor who owned one of the city’s biggest hospitals. He loved sports and bought her the bicycle, hoping she would learn how to ride it fast enough to compete in various cycling competitions.
Janet seemed to have taken after her father, as she received the bicycle with great joy and dreamed of using it to make him proud. She initially registered for a cycling competition at her school, but ended up twisting her ankle and wasn’t able to compete. Her father gave her all the necessary treatments and ensured she wasn’t left alone to ride her bicycle again until she’d mastered the skill.
Now, Janet rode confidently and fast. Most times, whenever she raced with her friends, she would beat them, and they admired her. She was preparing for an upcoming cycling competition in two weeks, so she had put a lot of effort into practicing. However, Janet’s classmate, Mary, was also planning to compete.
Mary was a great cyclist, too, and had won many medals in various racing competitions. Unlike Janet, though, Mary was quite proud, with a nasty temperament. One sunny afternoon a week before the race, Janet was out to training and bumped into Mary a few houses away, who also lived on the same street.
“Where are you off to, loser?” Mary asked with a mischievous smile.
“To practice,” Janet answered calmly.
“You think you can win this competition? Just back off, because the medal will be mine,” Mary replied, scoffing.
Janet just smiled and cycled away, ignoring Mary and her intimidating question.
The day of the competition drew closer, and Janet kept practicing. She left no stone unturned and did her best. Her parents also gave her plenty of courage and support, and she was thankful for that.
A day before the competition, Janet raced with her friends throughout most of the afternoon and returned home in the evening so she could get plenty of rest for the following day. After washing up, she helped herself to some french fries with chicken and a bottle of milk, after which she retired to bed.
The ring from her alarm jolted Janet from sleep, and she hurriedly took a bath and brushed her teeth. The competition was set to begin at 9 am, and it was already 7: 45. She rushed downstairs and met her dad in the dining room, who was munching on some pies.
“Good morning, Dad,” she greeted, dragging a dining chair to sit on and take her breakfast.
“Good morning, darling,” her dad replied, smiling. “How was your night?”
“Very fine, dad,” she replied, concentrating on her pies.
Her mum later joined them, and the trio ate their breakfast together. Afterward, they set out for Janet’s school. It was precisely 8:45 when they arrived.
Males and females were grouped according to their skill, which included Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary. Each skill group also included different levels; 1, 2, and 3. Janet and Mary were both in Junior Secondary, Level 2.
Each level had a total of twenty students, which were divided into five groups of four. First, each group would compete in a 400m bike race. Then, the fastest individuals from each group would compete in a final 1,000m race to determine the ultimate winner.
Soon, it was the female Junior Secondary level’s turn to race. Janet was in group A with three junior female students, while Mary was in group C with three other students. Janet ended as the winner in her group, as did Mary. It was tough but thrilling.
As soon as she crossed the finish line, Janet’s mum hugged her proudly, and her father congratulated her by giving her a warm kiss on the forehead.
Thirty minutes later, the finals began. Eventually, the time arrived for the Junior Secondary level (female) students to race. The top five students—including Janet and Mary—wheeled their bicycles to the track and took their positions.
“On your mark, get set, go!”
The race director blew the whistle, and Janet rode with all her might, making sure to give it her best shot. She was in second place, just behind Mary. The crowd cheered on. Within a few seconds, Janet had taken the lead and made sure to keep pedaling as fast as possible so as not to be overtaken by Mary.
“I won’t be defeated! I can’t be defeated!” Mary encouraged herself. Then, a naughty thought came to mind. With great speed, she cycled faster and faster. As she was about to catch up with Janet, she brought out her small face napkin and discreetly threw it at Janet’s back wheels. Janet felt the force, which initially confused her. Before she knew it, though, she lost control and landed on the track, her bicycle falling with her. Mary just smiled and rode past.
The crowd screamed at the sight of the fall, while Janet wondered what made her lose control. Then, she saw the napkin lying on the ground and immediately knew it was Mary’s doing. Still on the dirt, she turned and saw her mum screaming with her hands over her mouth. Her father just stood motionless and watched in confusion.
Janet could see that Mary was approaching the finish line, and unfortunately, no one seemed to have witnessed the cause of her fall. With great swiftness, Janet picked herself up, grabbed her bicycle, and continued racing, which caused the crowd to cheer loudly. Although she was now in fourth place, she was determined to win and make her parents proud. Janet cycled faster than before. Within a blink of an eye, she had overtaken the remaining two female students and almost caught up with Mary.
Just as Mary was about to cross the finish line, Janet overtook and crossed in front of her, earning first place. At that point, the crowd erupted in a cheer and hailed Janet as the winner.
Janet, exhausted, got off her bicycle, and fell onto the track. It was a fierce battle, but she emerged victoriously. Her mum ran up and hugged her tightly, after which many other students joined in. Now, the track was filled with people: students, teachers, and some parents who’d come to watch.
Janet was awarded a gold medal and took many pictures so that she wouldn’t forget that joyful day. It got even better when, on the way home, her dad promised to buy her a power bike when she turned 18.