FROM THE ARCHIVES A real life story of inspiration
that defies genre and time. from 2013… TAKE THE 5TH SHOT
Most people, both here and around the globe, would deny no one, who has sincerity, and honor and goodness in their hearts a third chance, because with an exception of a few, most could conceive of the notion of needing a third chance our self. But before we ask those around us, to allow us to roll the dice again, we must find the will or the courage or the strength or the nerve, to take the shot we keep missing, time and time again.
2018 Grammy Award Winning
Chris Stapleton w/ Broken Halo
The 5th Shot
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
It was in 1972 that Mary Decker took her first shot. Although it can be argued quite successfully, that it was not really a shot, since her young age of 14 prevented her from being considered for the United States of America Olympic Track Team. I will beg to differ, however, since the fact that we know she was too young, is that someone had to make the inquiry, to ask the question, and more importantly, that she was good enough to be mentioned, even if her first shot had no chance of hitting its mark. But in 1973, little Mary Decker, as she was affectionately called, announced that she would take a second shot, as she shocked the track and field world by winning the 800 meters, in a dual between the United States and the former Soviet Union, during the height of the cold war.
But she would fire a blank, as she missed the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, betrayed by her own body, a stress fracture in the lower leg. But little Mary Decker kept running, as it had become her life. And by 1979, she became only the second woman to run a mile in under 4:30, gaining an American Record, which proved to be a mere stepping stone. In 1980, Mary Decker, shattered the world record, running a full mile in less than four minutes and eighteen seconds, and putting her competitors on notice, that she intended to use her third shot.
In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, further polarizing the world’s only two superpowers, and politicizing the world’s greatest peacetime event. Sixty-three nations would boycott the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow, and with her home nation leading the charge, this time it would be world brinkmanship, that would cost Mary Decker her third try.
But Mary, who did not know it then, would still have two shots left. Like all the other athletes, who had trained for all those years, and all the smiling faces, from countries big and small, little Mary Decker was devastated at the indignity of it all. But whether her eyes remained on the prize or she thought she could outrun a string of bad luck, she kept running, even faster, even harder and in 1984, the Summer Olympics were on her home turf.
She had won the world championships, held in Helsinki the year before, and her trip to Los Angeles was touted more as a coronation than a competition, she was overwhelmingly expected to win. But the Olympics needed a rivalry and they had found the perfect one, in the barefoot runner from South Africa whose name was Zola Budd. 100,000 spectators were on their feet, and millions around the globe tuned in, as the rest of the field appeared invisible as all eyes were on them. For three laps, side by side Mary and Zola ran, the tension, nerve-racking, the excitement, overwhelming.
But into the fourth lap, it was Zola who made the first move. There was no panic among the American masses, because we knew that Mary knew what to do. But it would be a year later, before little Mary Decker, a full grown woman by then, would admit she had the speed, but not the tactical fortitude, As the race entered its halfway mark, and the thrill of the Olympics had filled the air, and with Mary holding tightly to her fourth time around, this time when it missed, she had only herself to blame. Inside of a tight pack – there were other champion runners in the field – Mary would clip Zola’s hill, stumble for a meter or two, then right before our eyes, she spectacularly fell out of the race.
How many times have we felt so alone. How many times did it appear the harder we try, the faster we fall. How many times have we wanted to throw our hands into the air, and scream out loud, although we were really shouting at ourselves, “I give up!” How many times have we given up our dreams, have we denied our own ambition, and collapsed our own vision, with goals still unfulfilled. How many times have we decided that we would never hit our mark? We take our final chance, and hide it or break it or curse the fact, that we ever had it. But when we regain our composure and take a moment to breathe, we understand the answer is not at all difficult, for what is a 5th shot for, if not to be put to good use.
In 1988, Mary Decker Slaney, a married woman with a child, would finish in 10th place at the Summer Games in Seoul, well out of medal contention, and far removed from the top of the podium, which was always her goal. But she walked away from the sport with her head held high, her dignity intact and no regrets to be made. For she was never an Olympic champion, which was the bullseye of her life, but she gave it everything she had, she used every single shot.
Dream big. Think large. Let us create a vision for our lives. Keep your on eye on the prize and achieve every goal. But rather we hit them or not, does not determine our importance, or diminish our existence, nor turn our dreams into nightmares. Because with every try we make, there is a contribution to humanity, which defines our legacy and the meaning of why we are here.
— this is… The Neighborhood
In 2020, no one will know what happened or why some stayed
and some left us all alone, but on Feb 4th, it no longer matters.
For you will have to choose, between the strawman and the crow.
THE STRAWMAN AND THE CROW
begins Feb 4, 2018
And beginning April 1, 2018…
The Neighborhood’s Season VI: WIN OR LOSE