Hello, this is Simon.
Two weeks ago, I went to my three-year-old daughter’s first sports day. It was something I had been really looking forward to, because she had missed out on her first two, due to illness and then COVID restrictions. So, this was a much anticipated event.
On the day, us parents lined up outside the gate of her daycare center in a predetermined order, and were then guided in to the seating area. As we filed in, I wondered how my daughter was going to perform. I knew she’d do some kind of dance, and also a short race, but worried how she would react with so many eyes looking in her direction. Would she just freak out and not want to do anything?
Once everyone was seated, in came the kids. As they entered the grounds in two nice straight lines, I noticed one child had wondered off and was swinging around the flagpole. It was my daughter! “Oh!” I thought “She is one of those kids!” Even, though I cringed, and began to worry. I also felt an odd sense of pride. However, once the music started, she got back in line and was “relatively” well behaved for the rest of the event.
First was the dance. She actually managed to stay quite focused for that, only drifting off from time to time, all while pointing at us calling out “Mama!” and “Papa!” at regular intervals. She even started jumping when the music went uptempo, so it seemed she was really enjoying herself.
Next was the team pair race. It was a relay race where two kids had to run around a cone about 10 meters away, while carrying a large ball on a net. I was happy to see she was paired with her best friend. They managed to work very well together, and got to the cone and back in good time.
Then came the running races. This was what I was most looking forward to. You can see the character of a lot of kids come out in these kinds of competitive events. As the different groups lined up to race you could see some were fairly indifferent, while others were chomping at the bit. The race was started with the beat of a drum, but a couple of the more keen kids jumped the gun, and took off down the track before the start signal. They got almost half way round the track before someone managed to stop them and return them to the start line.
When my daughter lined up, I could tell she was keen because of her starting pose. The start drum beat, and she took off ahead of the others. She maintained the lead until the final turn, when another kid started to catch up. To be honest a part of me wanted him to win because he started from behind, and I always have a soft spot for an underdog. He actually overtook her, but upon realizing this, my daughter got a second wind and passed him in passed him in the home stretch. I admired the boy because he gave her a good run for her money.
All in all, it was a lot of fun to watch, and my daughter really enjoyed it which is the main thing. The whole thing was over in about half an hour, but it was well worth the two-year wait.
“chomping at the bit”
The phrase “chomping at the bit” means to be impatient to start doing something. (e.g. He was chomping at the bit to get started on his latest novel.) The analogy comes from horses in which a “bit” is a part a of the apparatus that goes in the horses mouth and connects to the bridle and reins. You can imagine a horse that is keen to run chomping on this as it is being held back by the rider.
“jumped the gun”
To “jump the gun” means to act too soon, or before the appropriate time (e.g. It looks like I jumped the gun when I started jogging. It was still snowing these last two weeks.) This one comes from running races where a starter gun is used and runners sometimes take off before the gun is fired.
An “underdog” is a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest. Strictly speaking the boy who raced against my daughter wasn’t an underdog because no-one knew how fast each kid was before the race, but once he was in second place and catching up, it evoked the same kind of feelings in me.
“got a second wind”
A “second wind” is a return of strength or energy that makes it possible to continue in an activity or start again. This is used more for mid-long distance running, but can also be used for a variety of situations (e.g. It looked like he’d lost his enthusiasm for a while, but then he got his second wind and went at the task full throttle.)
“in the home stretch”
“The home stretch” is the final part of a race or other activity. (e.g. Don’t give up now. We’re in the home stretch. It’ll only take couple more hours to get this finished.)In a race it is usually final stretch of straight track before the finish line.
“he gave her a good run for her money”
To “give someone a run for their money” means to make it difficult for them to win a game or contest by trying hard and competing well (e.g. I may not have won the competition, but I certainly gave the guy in the first place a run for his money!)
The above expressions are sports idioms that can also be applied to everyday life. I hope they are useful.
See you next month!
Hello! My name is Simon.
I am from New Zealand, and have been living and teaching English in Japan since 1999.
My hobbies include movies, playing the guitar, gardening and hiking.