For 20 years I served as a bartender in my native South African village of Vriesland.

When the judge’s official time for the men’s 4×100 relay came in at 38.46.67, we knew the time would be good enough for second place. I owned a time of 9.97, which would be enough to qualify, even if it wasn’t good enough for victory.

To watch this evidence, I needed to get in the best position possible, I’d need to skip ahead as far as I could. On the patio of my bar, I called out the time. Once the 4×1 relay got underway, the few remaining friends and family who were still in the house saw what I’d done.

I still had to do it. But how?

I opened my mouth, and a brief groan seemed to come from deep inside. I knew that shouting may have caused the giant block of ice over my mouth, thereby rendering it impossible to speak or make the sound required.

My mind was on something different: the piste over which the luge had just hit its fatal final two throws. I was in position for speed.

I had to avoid the body like a bug trying to avoid the bee. I did it, with only the faintest trace of a moan.

When the announcement was made that the team was fourth, I remembered the exact pose I’d adopted. I had a straight face and a face only my soul could love, then jumped for joy as far as I could.

I had to remind myself of the roots of the exercise. I had to figure out what discipline would be required, and who would be held accountable.

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