On October 10th and 11th, the Academia de Atletismo competed for the first time, not to win medals but to gain experience.
They went to the Olympic athletic track at the Nicaraguan Sports Institute (IND) in order to participate in the InterClub Championship in Managua, Nicaragua. This is the second highest competition in the country and has no age limit so the competition was tough. Two national records fell, one in the men's steeplechase and one in the women's 400 meter dash.
Our club brought nine athletes and they each had the chance to push themselves in their events. They competed in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter races, the 4x100 relay, and javelin. Each managed to achieve their real goals: get over their nerves and beat their personal best.
Having hardly slept due to excitment the night before, the kids and Roberto boarded the public bus for the 2 1/2 hour trip to Managua on Saturday morning. Once the bus dropped them off at the market in Managua, they took taxis to the stadium.
People are frequently robbed at gunpoint in this market and by taxi drivers (yes, it's the taxi drivers that have guns) and so once we're able to raise enough money, they will rent a minivan and driver at $100 per round trip to take them directly from Rivas to the stadium.
Once at the stadium, Roberto worked on the stacks of paperwork to be completed. In the flurry, newness and nerves of it all the kids forgot what to do, where to be and how to warm up; some of them nearly missed the last call for the 400 meter dash. Roberto argued with the judge on their behalf and they were allowed to compete (arguing can accomplish a lot in Nicaragua).
After the competition ended for that afternoon, all the stadium dormitories were full, so the Academia and a few other teams were sent to 'El Centro de Martin Lutero', and evangelical center an hour away. Roberto, trying to look on the bright side mentioned that the bathrooms were cleaner there than at the stadium and that within a few hours of their arrival both the electricity and water came on.
The next morning, everyone got up at 4 AM to return by shuttle bus to the stadium. Because their excitement at staying in Managua had gotten the better of them once again, the kids were exhausted from barely sleeping and napped on the floor at the stadium while waiting for their events.
While, as expected, none of them won medals, they returned exactly as Roberto had hoped: more experienced, less rattled by nerves, bragging about their time to everyone and exhorting the need for harder training to beat the competition!
The 23rd and 24th of October the club will be participating in the junior and youth championships (and competing against those their own age). This event qualifies the best youth athletes of Nicaragua to represent the nation in the Central American Games in Guatemala the 25th of November. In this competition we will be represented by 15 athletes.
In the meantime, the kids are training hard knowing that those who look beyond their own horizons will eventually reach their dreams.