I was an orienteering athlete for six years in middle school. Like Zijian, the protagonist, I have competed for my school and city and won a national championship in a competition. I remember everyone around me was so proud of me, especially my parents. Whenever my parents and I went out to dinner with their adult friends, they always took me and showed off my achievements in front of their friends. They enjoyed the vanity I brought them. But on the other hand, I hated orienteering, and I hated the anti-humanity training culture in our team. I remember that there was a naughty athlete in our team who secretly brought a mobile phone to play, but it was completely forbidden to bring mobile phones into our team. By chance the coach found out about it, so the coach called his father over and told him to smash the phone in front of all the team members and his father. This incident is like a nightmare in my mind. I began to think about the meaning of athletic competition. I hate the boring and exhausting training day after day, I hate the mud and sweat after each training, and I hate the fear and anxiety of the unknown before each competition. But I insisted on it and lived up to my parents' expectations for six years as a “good boy”. The cost is to this day I still hate running and exercise that is supposed to make me feel good. And I’m so regretful that I didn’t truly speak out my real thoughts. I hope to write my own experiences as a teenager into the story to speak up for teenagers in China and around the world who are forced to do things they hate because of the expectations of adults around them.
At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Liu Xiang, one of the best Chinese athletes carried the expectations of the nation to compete. What the people didn't know was that he was already suffering from a serious foot injury at that time. But under the weight of national expectation, he was going to that game anyway. As the best athlete, he didn't have any choice. As a result, not long after he started running, he ruptured his Achilles tendon, ending his career. And worst of all, although he was a victim, he was blamed by many Chinese. I was a little kid at that time, but I remember my whole family was watching him compete, and when he left, my whole family was calling him dirty, insulting words, saying that he was a disgrace to the country, a disgrace to the Chinese people. But at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Simone Biles, an American gymnast, bravely admitted her pain and voluntarily withdrew from the competition. It was a huge inspiration to me. Recalling my painful experience as an athlete, I never even thought about giving up on myself, but always thought about how I could work hard or sacrifice myself to win for others. And after seeing Simone Biles' decision, I'm going to use our protagonist, Zijian, to do what athletes who are afraid to speak up should do, which is to give up and quit the game for themselves. I hope this story can inspire more people to think about the anti-humanity and cruelty of competitive sports and understand that the most important thing for athletes is themselves, and their physical and mental health, rather than sacrificing themselves to win the championship for the expectation of others.
Orienteering is a sport that requires the athlete to choose the best and most suitable route within a set range using a map and a compass, to reach each control point quickly. The athlete who takes the shortest time wins the competition. Usually, orienteering will be carried out in forests, mountains, and other complex locations which require participants to have strong planning skills, logical ability, and good physical endurance.
Key Elements of Orienteering
Essentials that are needed in an orienteering competition. They are also key props that serve as metaphorical symbols in the story for our main character.
The guidance for direction.
The best route to exit/win.
The goal for each point of the entir route.