Away from the crowds on stands in the shade in the National Olympic Sports Center in Beijing, a young man in red shirt was sitting lonely in the middle of rows of empty blue seats under the scorching sun. Quietly, his eyes were glued to the green playground, where intense competitions in track and field of the 21st Universiade were going on.
In front of him on the desk was a sheet of paper, which carried the men’s decathlon results.
“This should have been my place,” he pointed to the ninth line on the sheet, regretting that the name and results there belonged to another athlete rather than him.
Egons Lacis of Latvia, a third year student in Riga Technical University, got his right leg hurt in the long jump, the second event of decathlon. He had achieved his personal best as ranking 19 in the European Championships last July, and came to Beijing ambitiously for a better display of his sports talent in the world university summer games.
“But I can do no sports for at least a month now, it’s a disaster!” Lacis sighed. “I’m here waiting to see the 1500m race -- the last decathlon event.”
Despite the frustration, he smiled when talking about his life here. “Anyway, I feel very lucky to be qualified to come,” he said. “It’s my first time to live in an athletes’ village. It’s fantastic with the little garden, the flowers and the fountain. Every evening, there are Chinese musicians playing guitar, singing and dancing. I love watching them playing, and I love the food too.”
Lacis attributed his hurt to a technical mistake in jumping, and swore he would never repeat it. And he is hopeful for the future. “This is NOT the last Universiade,” he said firmly. “I’ll compensate the mistake in the next University Games, in which I will at least finish 6th. I’ll also try to compete in the 2004 Olympic Games.”
“Hope will never die!” -- so his teammates encouraged him after he got hurt. And this is what he said to the reporter towards the end of the interview.