Doing the Usain Bolt

A few weeks ago I let you know that little Alfie won the 100mtr sprint at his school’s Athletics Carnival.

It's all over

The anxious ‘Parent Co-ordinator’ making sure he didn’t miss his first and only event – that’s a soft grip I have on him – it’s not child abuse

This meant that he and the second-place-getter qualified to compete at the Zone Carnival where 14 schools from around the area get together for a day of intense competition (think Olympic trials).

The flying start

The flying start

Alfie has not had any previous experience or training and on the weekend, (with the big day looming) he asked, ‘Shouldn’t I be doing some training?’  Good point.  So we walked up to the local oval with me in the important position of head coach.

Coming out of the blocks

Coming out of the blocks

When we arrived at the 100mtr track there was a father training his daughter.  ‘Hello’, I said, all smiles.

‘Hi’, he replied looking down at his shoes.

‘Is your daughter training for the Zone Carnival?’ I asked in a most friendly tone.


‘Oh, so is my son.  What event is your daughter running in?’

‘Hundred metres’.

‘Oh, what a coincidence.  So is my boy.  What age group?’

‘Under nines’.

‘Oh, Alfie’s in the Under 8’s.  Would you like to train together?’

And he looked at his daughter and he looked back at me and said, ‘Not really’, and off they walked.

Off to a good start

Off to a good start

Never mind.  The father and daughter removed themselves to the other side of the oval where there wasn’t even a 100mtr track to practise on but this left us with the exact part of the oval we needed.  Drawing on all my knowledge of sprinting (from about three decades ago) I started Alfie off with a warm-up.  Then I took out my i-phone and turned on the stop-watch and had him do some sprints.  22 Seconds.  Not very good.  We worked on starts and I noticed he would begin with his eyes to the ground rather than looking at the finish line so we fixed that, then I told him he needed to keep his arms closer to his sides and, ‘the faster you swing your arms, the faster your legs will move’ (I remember being taught that – hope it’s still relevant), then we worked on sprinting out of the blocks.  Final sprint:  18 seconds.  Not a bad effort to reduce your 100mtr time by four seconds in one training session!

Lots of determination

Both legs off the ground!

So we went home feeling like he just might be able to keep up with the pack.

Earlier in the week I had received a phone call from the school’s sports master saying I had put my name down as a helper.

‘No I didn’t’, I replied.

‘Are you sure?  Because we’ve got Alfie’s form and you’ve ticked the box saying you would like to help’.  I really must slow down and read the fine print.  But this is a public school and it needs its helpers.

‘How long would I be helping for?’

‘You’d need to be there at 8.30 and we’ll probably finish around two’.

‘Oh’.  I was hoping to be home by around ten.

‘But you won’t be doing it on your own; there are lots of other parent helpers’.

‘Well I do want to watch my son’s race; you wouldn’t be locking me in a cupboard under the stairs for the day would you?’

‘No, no; you’ll be outside and you can definitely watch his race’.

‘Oh, okay.  I’d love to’, I said, wincing.  And I know it sounds like I have a very bad attitude towards helping but it’s just I wore myself out helping at Archie and Arabella’s schools.  Third child syndrome.

Swinging those arms

Swinging those arms

So on Monday morning after I fed Alfie a winner’s breakfast of raisin toast and a banana (that Arabella then screamed was the wrong thing to do because it was full of short-release sugars), we set off to the carnival.

He didn't have spikes like a lot of the competitors

He didn’t have spikes like a lot of the competitors

The traffic was appalling and so we arrived at the far-flung venue about 10 minutes late.  When we found our school’s section of the grandstand I saw a mother waving frantically at me.  I waved back mistakenly thinking she was being friendly.  Then the yelling started.  I climbed the stairs to where she was standing with a cap on her head and paperwork in her hands looking very official.  ‘You’re the parent co-ordinator’.


‘You’re the parent co-ordinator and we’ve been doing your job without you.’

‘I said I’d be a parent helper.’  Then she waved the paperwork at me and I noticed that my name was on the front of it written in bold letters with the title ‘Parent Co-ordinator’ beneath it and someone had helpfully run a highlighter over this information for great emphasis.

‘Oh, okay’.

‘You need to ask the competitors their size then give them one of these shirts to wear, then mark off their names then make sure they return them at the end of the day.  Here’s the list of competitors and here’s a pen’.  And then she sat down, pulled out a trashy magazine and stuck her head in it, only lifting it to watch her son’s race.

Right then.  So I busied myself in my solo role as somehow there weren’t any other helpers, however, I was hardly run off my feet.  The weather was too good to be true and on this winter’s day I was plastering myself in sunscreen (and Alfie!) concerned I was going to be burnt to a cinder.  The setting of the carnival was in a very beautiful rural area and so I found the day quite relaxing.

Powering along the track

Powering along the track

But back to Alfie.  He did his best.  He got off to a great start.  He kept his head up and looked to the finish line.  He didn’t trip or fall or veer from his lane.  He kept his arms to his sides and he worked them vigorously.  He came 5th in his heat and there were six heats.  Not a good enough result for the finals and although he was disappointed he knew he had run his best race and that was what I’d been telling him is the most important thing.  The thing is, to be in contention he needed to be running the race at around 15 or 16 seconds, not the 18 seconds I think is his pace.

Running through the metal bars

Running through the metal bars but not with the Olympic-finish style

As for the ‘Parent Co-ordinator’,  I was there for the long haul and almost the last to leave.

Coming to a stop

Coming to a stop

It was a good day out; Alfie enjoyed his day outside of the classroom and I felt blessed to be able to be there to support him.



And we took him out to dinner to celebrate – at the Buena Vista where Arabella was our waitress!

And it's all over

And it’s all over

He’s my Usain Bolt in the making.

Ahhh, that might be the 'Parent Co-Ordinator' trying to find out her role

Gee that ‘Parent Co-ordinator’ is doing a great job

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  1. That parent coordinator looks like she needs a cocktail. 🙂

    Alfie is so cute and you’re a wonderful mum for training with him. Bet you didn’t think the last time you trained you’d be training your own son one day with an iPhone.

  2. Oh the joys of school commitments! Well done you for getting in about it… more running coming for you? Well done that wee racer?

  3. Well wasn’t that dad an absolute charmer!

    Glad you got to see Alfie in his race and that he’s enjoying competing so much. He’s all legs and arms so I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s in the final heat.

  4. That’s so cute. That was so sweet of you to help, even when they stuck you as leading the whole thing! Congrats to Alfie!

  5. Congratulations to Alfie, you are so nice dear Charlie, to help them… I loved the photographs, they all show us, how amazing the race. And you are the best! Thanks and Love, nia

  6. Ugh. How incredibly rude were that father and daughter? What happened to teaching kids about good sportsmanship with their sport?! And under 8’s with spikes? How can you be serious enough about running to have spikes when you are under 8 (not that I know anything about athletics, but it does seem a little over the top!!). Good on Alfie for giving it his best shot!

  7. You have the ideal attitude when it comes to competition. Do your best. I wish every parent possessed that.

    I totally understand the third child syndrome.

  8. Terrific photos Charlie.

  9. Congratulations to Alfie. Very cute photos as well. And how nice you could train with him–memories for a lifetime!

  10. Congratulations to Alfie on a well-run race and to his trainer.

    With age and experience comes wisdom … must read what you check off more closely next time. 🙂

  11. you must be very proud of him.

  12. Mr Competitive says:

    What a great run by Alfie well done, seems to be a few quite competitive parents in the vicinity including some taking their children for private one on one training sessions..

  13. Alfie looks fast, and you are a great coach…and Parent Coordinator…and mom. You also have far more patience than I do with rude people.

  14. Enjoyed reading this post, but it did stir up memories of how much I detested these school athletics carnivals. Though the running ones were better than swimming, at least…

  15. Awesome pictures, I almost feel that I am there watching Alfie run…and the pictures of him in the air are amazing…
    It is sad that some people can be so rude…and to think that these should be examples for the next generation…very sad.
    Have a great week Charlie…I know you will 😀

  16. Andrea Butler says:

    If only when I was involved in school carnivals I had someone like you there! Isn’t it sad how parents can be so rude and not be very helpful! I often was looked at if I had two heads or felt like I was being treated like a 2 year old.. Well done you! And well done Alfie, hope you had a lovely glass of something nice at the end of the day!!!

  17. I think I have to teach you how to say “no”.. 🙂 Those things always turn out like that, don’t they – someone volunteers you, and then you’re the only person manning the ice cream stall for the day. 😉 Great job, Alfie! He looks amazing on the track!

  18. Congratulations on being the last mum standing. Did you reward yourself with Maureen’s suggested well earned cocktail? Congratulations to Alfie, he worked hard too, great pictures. GG xx

  19. Great job Alfie! I’m so glad it was a nice day for you Charlie, I’ve certainly done my bit as mummy helper at the zones wrapped in blankets with the poor little kiddies one big goose bump! Littlej had to do a three kilometre run in sleet yesterday… Maybe the teachers thought it would make them run faster? Xox

  20. I can totally relate to being burned out on volunteering by child #3…been there!!! I’m so glad you didn’t miss Alfie’s race…and what a good trainer you were. All I can remember from my track and field days is getting a side cramp and having to stop :/

  21. you must be SO proud 😀

  22. I love that first pic Charlie it looks like a paparazzi shot!
    Alfie sure gets some height when he runs. Well done to him!

  23. G’day Charlie and as a parent coordinator and mum, you have A LOT to be proud of with Alfie!, true!
    GREAT photos and thank you for providing a snippet into yours and Alfie’s life too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  24. Aww well done Alfie! He’s really growing up in front of us! I remember that swimming pic where he was so little 🙂

  25. That is so sweet, go Alfie! Can’t wait to see him in the Olympics 😛


  26. Alfie will do just fine in track & field. Look how good he’s doing now with so little training. If he remains interested, he’ll do quite well. You read it here first. And you’ll be there cheering him on. As his first trainer, where else would you be? 😉

  27. Hmm, seems a few parents are quite unfriendly!
    Glad Alfie had fun.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  28. Alfie’s turning into quite the little runner! Give him another year and I bet he’ll be winning 😉

  29. you must be so proud no matter where he finished, he looks like he’s just flying down the track!

  30. Alfie must have had a ton of fun. And what an honor to be parent coordinator. Or perhaps not. 😉 It does sound like a nice day, even though you got stuck with all of that work.

  31. Go go, Alfie!

  32. I loved this recap! Those photos of Alfie are fantastic – he may not have made it to the next stage but he certainly has running style! Your coaching clearly did wonders with arm swinging and eye gaze and yes, even two legs off the ground 😉 Good on you for your helping efforts too, it sounds like you worked as hard as Alfie did.

  33. I can see some LIttle Athletics coming on. I did that as a kid and adored it. Looks like you are in Narabeen there.

  34. You are such a good sport! I remember 3rd child syndrome and then I had a 4th (poor thing was neglected! – not really) Well done Alfie!

  35. That’s a bit rude how you were suddenly asked to help out and be the co-ordinator! That’s not fair!

    I really like the photos you took of Alfie so cute and he’s definitely got the build for a runner 🙂 I’m sure at the next competition he’ll be first!

  36. Cheers for Alfie … and applause for the Parent Coordinator!

  37. He looks impressive to me! He looks like a runner. 🙂 I hope he was very proud of himself. Apparently you have the reputation of being a parent they can rely upon…you might want to work on that! 🙂

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