On that day in late Spring of 2003, his leg was shaking on the starting block. Next to him was Zakaria, the reigning Lebanese seniors champion. Facing them: one hundred meters of eternity, one hundred meters of Immortality.
Mohammad was the champion for the junior’s category. He was scared of nothing, and no one. He knew he’d eventually beat Zakaria, but today was different: today was already ‘Now’, not just some wishful day yet to come.
‘Now’ is another animal altogether. ‘Now’ stays for ten seconds and some change. Deep down in our psyche, in our body, we know the difference between ‘One Day’ and ‘Now’; The difference between fiction and endless possibilities, and the reality of ‘Now’ and what really happens; what goes down in History.
All living things feel the ‘Now’; racing horses trapped in the starting blocks, beating the gate, waiting to spring out at the speed of light! And it so happens that Mohammad’s leg shaking wasn’t actually fear or apprehension as he thought; it was that same animal restlessness his body knew all too well, for when it heard the gun, Mohammed realized that he was heading down the track with no one in his peripheral vision.
On that day in 2003, as a junior he did not beat the seniors’ 10.74 second record; he’d just won the race with a time of 10.76 seconds. Any junior would be happy with that, but in that 2003 Spring he got his time down to 10.75 and set a new Juniors’ record. That wasn’t the end of it though, because in the Summer of 2003 on his third meeting with Zakaria, there was a new Seniors’ Record: Mohammad ran one hundred meters in 10.59 seconds. He blasted past the seniors’ record. He was still a junior, but it did not matter. He was a champion now.
You might say that was then, and this is now, and that after his injury that very year he went to the World Championship in Paris but couldn’t race. Nine years later, Mohammad could still run a hundred meters in 10.59 seconds. To this day, the record still stands. Mohammad also holds the 6 meter indoor for juniors record of 7.08 seconds, and the same category’s senior record of 6.95 seconds. he also holds the 100 meter youth record at 10.89 seconds, not to mention the record for the 200 meter juniors of 22.02 seconds and the 400 meters seniors record of 48.08 seconds.
Lebanon cannot afford to support Lebanese athletes. Mohammad could not go further or faster, after his unchecked and untreated injury, but that did not stop him. He recently joined Inter-Lebanon Road Running and Athletics Club as a coach, and helped train Greta Taslakian, the woman who holds pretty much every record from 100 meters and up, and she’s still on a roll.
And so, just like in the 100 meter relay race —for which Mohammad still holds the juniors’ and seniors’ record— Mohammad passed on the torch to the younger generations, but at 30 years of age, you should still train as hell to even dream of beating one of his times, for Mohammad’s Time is still Now!