- Abby Goldstein (Grade 6 Second Place): Miracle off the Pitch
- Emma Shay-Tannas (Grade 6 Honorable Mention): Behind the Goal
- Ariel Skonick (Grade 6 Honorable Mention): Gleaming Heart of Gold – see below
Ariel Skolnick, Grade 6
Solomon Schechter Day School, Newton
Gleaming Heart of Gold
(based on the true story of the gold medalist Jacqueline Nytepi Kiplimo)
I can see it, the finish line, that beautiful, pure, and precise white streak across the copper polyurethane track. My beating heart, my pumping arms, and my racing mind push me into the lead of my final lap. I chance a glance behind my shoulder, seeing the man. His face was as red as the setting sun with sweat dripping down his back, and nothing to quench his pleading throat. I don’t know why I did it. I didn’t even know his name.
My name is Faith Lane. Running was my destiny, or so I thought. Five miles and a pressured win was all it took to determine my future. I would either get a full scholarship to college or I would be a high school dropout, like my mother. I didn’t know I would stray from my unwavering path, at the race that changed my life.
As I was jogging outside the stadium, warming up my limbs on a cool Sunday morning in Kenya, with perfect weather for a race, I thought to myself, “just one more gold.” One win, and I would be awarded a spot on the varsity track team. I heard the horn blare, signalling the time to get into position. Taking my mark, I sized up my opponents. Then I shot out onto the track, in the lead, although realizing that one man was matching me stride for stride, I got annoyed. I would not let anyone else triumph before me. This was my race to win.
As I looked behind my shoulder one last time, I realized he was breathing heavily. Then I noticed he never grabbed the cups of water that were distributed to keep us hydrated because he couldn’t, for his arms were amputated at the elbow. At the third mile mark, he looked exhausted, faint, and unable to move on. As he faltered, almost losing his footing, my heart ripped from my body and forced me over to his side. My trembling arm reached out to help him drink just one cup of water, then two, and finally three. With only two miles left, he raced out from behind me, refreshed and ready to win.
He crossed the finish line thirty seconds in front of me. The crowd, shocked, started to clap, but in a matter of seconds thousands of people got on their feet, clapping like they never had before. I just walked out on my unsteady legs, not looking back, because of that single tear running down my silent face. I never looked back; therefore, I never saw the look on his face. The look of pure defeat.
A few days later he came to my home with the gold medal around his neck. With determination, he told me that even though I didn’t receive the gold medal, It didn’t matter because I already had something much more, for I had a gleaming heart of gold. As I stared in shock and admiration, he willingly bent over and dropped the gold medal at my feet, turned around and left. Never looking back.