>> Eric Liddell
Chris Hoy <<
Two Olympians take to the track in this week’s pairing, both examples of the dedication necessary to succeed in sport, and in life. Eric Liddell is best known for his gold medal in the 400 metres at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Immortalised in Hugh Hudson’s 1981 movie Chariots of Fire, his story went from relative obscurity to renown; a devout Christian who put God before his sport by refusing to compete on the Sabbath in the 200 metres (his favoured event), switching to the 400 metres where he set a world record on his way to victory. (Sir) Chris Hoy, dedicated himself over a 23-year career to his sport of track cycling, taking eleven world titles and six Olympics golds and a silver, making him the most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time and both Scotland and Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian. Though both have an assured place in the pantheon of sporting legends, Liddell was fated to die as a missionary in a Japanese internment camp in China in 1945, while Hoy went on to be rewarded with a knighthood. However, both sportsmen show the determination and courage required of those who truly aspire to greatness, and they represent the faith to endure which characterises Scotland and its people.
Weihsian, Nollaig 1944
by Maoilios Caimbeul
Eric Liddell (1902-1945) a bhàsaich ann an campa Iapanach airson prìosanaich shìobhalta, Weihsian, Sìona, An Gearran 1945.
Tha na rèisean san robh mi
a’ ruith timcheall nam cheann,
Colaiste Eltham, 100 slat, aois aon deug,
’s bhuannaich mi, ’s fhios a’m gun robh mi
luath. Creag Longairt, Drochaid Stamford,
Stoke-on-Trent, Paris, iad uile
a’ ruith timcheall nam cheann, mo cheann
tha sgàineadh le pian. A’ cuimhneachadh
nan rèisean ud, agus an rèis mhòr eile,
chan ann do na daoine luatha an rèis …
no do na daoine eòlach deagh-ghean.
Chan eil fhios a’m am faic mi Flo
gu bràth san t-saoghal seo, m’ eudail phrìseil
ann an Canada, mise nam phrìosanach cogaidh,
am faic mi gu bràth sibh? Chan eil fhios,
no am faic mi Maureen bheag a rugadh
ann an Toronto? Balla falamh air mo beulaibh
air nach fhaic mi thairis, ged bha mi luath
chan fhaigh mi thugaibh, Trish is Heather,
mo nigheanan brèagha, dìreach dealbhan dhìbh,
bloighean, smaointean, mo cheann na bhrochan,
a’ cuimhneachadh gur e Gràdh an aon nì as fhiach,
a mhaireas, gèillidh mi dha, nuair a bhriseas mi
an teip, cuiridh E a làmh nam làimh,
agus bidh seo seachad.
Weihsian, Christmas 1944
by Myles Campbell
Eric Liddell (1902-1945) who died in a Japanese internee camp, Weihsian, China, February 1945.
The races I was in
run around in my head,
Eltham College, 100 yards, 11 years of age,
and I won, knowing well I was
fast. Craiglockhart, Stamford Bridge,
Stoke-on-Trent, Paris, they are all
running around in my head, my head
that screams with pain. Remembering
those races, and the other big race,
the race is not to the swift …
or favour to the learned.
I don’t know if I’ll ever
see Flo in this world, my dearest darling
is in Canada, and I a prisoner of war,
will I ever see you all? Who knows,
or will I see little Maureen born
in Toronto? A blank wall in front of me
over which I cannot see, although I was fast,
I can’t get to you, Trish and Heather,
my beautiful girls, photos of you only,
fragments, thoughts, my head is mush,
remembering Love is the only worthwhile
thing that will last, I’ll surrender, when I break
the tape, He will put his hand in mine,
and this will be over.
by Jon Plunkett
It’s the neck you see,
thick as an average thigh.
taut as strained carbon
or a starter pistol spring.
Then he’s blurring
the velodrome cambers,
going nowhere and everywhere
to cross a line of longing.
A nation cheers.
On the podium
a tickle of gold swings
from the big scalene muscles
while that other anthem drones.
Then he holds a steady head
as adulation leads to London.
Deltoid muscles strain as he bows
as though in prayer, or shame.
Sir Chris arises.
Half a nation cheer.
Maoilios Caimbeul/Myles Campbell was born in 1944 in the Isle of Skye. He writes mainly in Gaelic and has published six poetry collections, plus two co-authored volumes and selected poems 1974-2006, which includes a number of new poems. He has written seven children’s novels, with an eighth pending, and an adult novel. His latest poetry collection is Tro Chloich na Sùla, published by CLÀR.
Born in Ireland, Jon Plunkett now lives and writes in Scotland. His work has been widely published in uk literary magazines and poetry journals. As well as writing Jon is leading the development of the Corbenic Poetry Path. For more information please visit www.corbenicpoetrypath.com