The Commonwealth Games | Aga Khan Academies

The Commonwealth Games

09 September 2014

Have you ever had a dream so far-fetched that even you were sure that there was no way you could make it? You keep holding on to that dream despite knowing you might never make it there and then suddenly that dream becomes a reality. That was how it felt to finally be able to participate in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games this year.

I remember watching the 2012 Olympics in London and deciding I would make it to the Olympics one day in the far future. Little did I know, two years later I would be competing amongst the very Olympians I watched on TV.

The games were massive. It was the first time I had participated in any activity on such a large scale. The entire event made me re-think my entire outlook on the world. It felt humbling to be amongst athletes who just like me, spent months and years training for the moment where they would appear on the international stage. They all had the same dream as me, to stand on that medal podium as your national anthem was played for the entire world to hear. Of course I am still far away from medal hope but it’s exciting to be one of around 4950 athletes who all acknowledge each other for making it that far.

For me the games were critical because they showed me how far world champions were willing to go to win. I remember an Australian rugby team member telling me how he had spent the last six months in a training camp where his life revolved around the sport. No family, no going out, just training and conditioning his body so that when the time came for him to compete, he was the best he could be. It made me think of how I would groan about having ten training sessions a week for six weeks while he had to do all that for six months. He admitted that it took a lot of focus and mental energy, but if you really want to win, it is nothing you can’t handle. So I learnt that being a champion was not as easy as having a dream, it’s not about putting in hard work: you need to put in crazy work! A few of the swimmers from South Africa shared with me their swimming programs throughout the year and I honestly didn’t understand how they did all that and still managed to have jobs and be in university. The answer I came up with is that if you want something badly enough, you will do anything to achieve it. So I’ve decided to refocus my efforts and remember that no training is too hard. I’ve got my eye on a few other big competitions I would like to compete in and now I know what I have to do.

The competition was extremely tough as was to be expected. The hardest bit though, was making sure I didn’t panic. Normally I have mild butterflies in my stomach before a race; this time I had an entire colony fluttering about. The races turned out pretty well and I was quite happy with the results.

Aside from the heavy stuff it was an amazing experience. The city of Glasgow is beautiful and I got to explore most of the central city. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming; the food was interesting to say the least, the Scottish were extremely friendly and the village was massive. The best part was interacting with all the athletes from the different countries and laughing as you exchanged stories of travel and training experiences. I got to sit right next to the stars such as Chad Le Clos and even Bolt made an appearance for a few minutes. All the superstars I looked up to were literally living the same life I did. It wasn’t an experience I am likely to ever forget.

By Joshua Ekirikubinza, President of the Senior Representative Council