I played only one game at the chess tournament, against a man that looked older than my father. I managed to eliminate one bishop of his, which was reason enough to brag about for the rest of the day, even though I lost in very few minutes. But that was just a warm up anyway, what I really was expecting was the Decathlon tournament, but unfortunately my mom came to pick me up because we had to leave to catch the next bus home. I cried a lot and my mom convinced the organizers to let me play first, meaning that they had to anticipate the starting hours of the tournament.
Well, it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. It was akin to have to take a penalty at the world cup finals. Since I was the first one, everybody was standing behind me seeing how I would fare. Since I was still so young, probably the other participants just found the whole thing quite funny and cute, but in my mind these tall, smelly and furry kids behind me were menacing, and I had to keep my calm and play it well. My hands were sweaty, and I noticed my hands slipping on the keyboard, but there was no way to turn back now. One of the events was the High Jump, and predictably, it went terrible. After my run was over, I had to leave quickly to catch the bus.
At night I called my cousin Walter to know how I ranked. ‘Last Place’ he said, but you got yourself a participation prize. A prize! It didn’t matter that I ranked last, I got a trophy and that was reason enough to feel proud of myself. It was a blue rubber case filled with colouring pens. I loved it so much and I couldn’t wait to take it to school.
I told every other kid in my class how I got the case and ensured that everyone got to see it. I saw by their reactions that they were indeed impressed, and while the day went by, I just couldn’t stop being the happiest I’ve ever been. Until the bell rang. In the usual hustle to put everything on the desk inside the backpack, I couldn’t find my dearly loved blue case. I was getting desperate. I asked everyone and my teacher if they saw my blue case. Nobody saw it, and I cried. I cried a lot for the rest of the day. Somebody stole it from me, and I immediately knew who the culprit was.
For me, it had to be Ilyusha. Let’s call him that way since looked straight out of a Dostoyevsky novel. Ilyusha was the poor boy of the class. He came to school in ragged clothes, shaved head and his face always seemed covered in soot. He was constantly bullied by all his peers and spent most of the time crying. I confronted him and he swore it wasn’t him. I never believed him. He was poor and dirty, obviously it had to be him.
One day Ilyusha stopped coming to class. It seems his family moved and I never saw him again until maybe twenty years later. He was selling roasted chestnuts by the sidewalk. He looked as poor as twenty years ago, maybe more. Even though we were both in the mid twenties by then, he looked almost forty. I thought about talking to him, and telling him I was sorry. I didn’t had the guts to do it, and I went home and tried to forget all of that. After all this time, I still think about him every now and then. Ilyusha taught be a big lesson about prejudice that I still treasure to this day, and it all started with a tournament of Decathlon.
When the 90s arrived, all the Spectrums were rapidly being neglected together with all the sports waggling games that were popular in the eighties. That was until 1992 when The Carl Lewis Sports Challenge was released. Me, Walter The Baptist and his friends saw the game on a magazine and everyone started getting all nostalgic, as if that was even possible for thirteen year old kids. We got the game, via the usual illegal means, and played enthusiastically for just a few days. Not me, or Walter, or Roy, or even Ricky Cap played that game ever after that week. That’s usually how nostalgia works.
|The runners have gravity-defying abilities that are of tremendous help to the photographers|
|This is pure bliss|
For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to choose the “Full Simulation” mode in the main menu. I just wanted to do some joystick waggling and I was faced with the most boring task of doing the training schedule for my athletes. I really can’t fault the game, since it gave me the option to go straight for the running/jumping, but I question if anyone ever found this part to be any fun. Whatever I do, I just see my athletes getting crappier and shittier every passing week, but truth be told, I didn't make much of an effort to try to understand the training system.
|Mr. Dandolo seems one of the few not affected by the Black Death|
The game gives three controlling options: “Speed”, “Gearing” and “Rhythm”. The first method is just old-school waggling. I dug up my old Quickjoy Megastar to try it but it was an exercise in frustration with a big potential for joystick damaging. I just couldn’t get any satisfying results in the 100m competition, and to be fair, I just couldn’t see the point in damaging such a beautiful kit with this game.
I was hopeless with any kind of control method. But for some reason I was quite good at the Long Jump, even getting a silver medal at the end, but I never felt any kind of triumph. I just wanted to get over with it and thank the fact that these kind of games stopped existing. I’m glad this blog isn’t called “Spectrum Memoirs” because it would mean that I would also have to shatter my fond memories of Decathlon.