How at sports day

Children, the time to start training for the school sports day is now. Winning is everything. Your parents may have taken a day off work to see you run, and they don't want to see you limping in at the back of the field. Remember, mummy or daddy may have sacrificed an important meeting that would've helped pay off the mortgage on the house in which your bedroom and toys are.

In the sprint, you can't just run really fast anywhere - you have to run in between those white lines. Why? Because the International Olympic Committee says so, that's why. If, halfway up the course, all the other children are in front of you, it really doesn't matter where you run, because mummy and daddy won't be hanging around at the finish line to see you humiliated.

In the egg-and-spoon race, the object is to get to the finishing post with your egg still on your spoon, not to see how many times you can drop it and pick it up. Other parents may find this cute and funny, but yours won't, and they're the ones with the keys to the front door.

Refereeing is often lax, even non-existent, in this event. So, even though you won't have time to glue your egg to your spoon, you can pick a spoon with greater concavity than others. Ask your mother for a soup ladle, if possible. When you find yourself neck and neck with other kids, simply put your thumb on your egg and run a bit faster. After all, no one's going to ask for a steward's enquiry because you're only a kid.

Children who are not naturally athletic are advised to focus on the three-legged race. Avoid teaming up with your best friend; he may have great toys, but in the co-ordination department he's a bit of a dork. Pick someone with the same leg-length as you and then walk quickly to school with him for the rest of term until lockstep becomes second nature.

If you're the big porky boy in the class, pick the weediest boy in your class to run with. Don't worry about his stride pattern or anything else. Just drag him along as fast as you can go. If you've tied your knots right, he will still be there at the finishing line.

School sports days often have a parents' race, too. This is different from kids' races and is not competitive. When your daddy finishes seventh or eighth, that is good. But console him with the fact that the other adults are in too much of a hurry and are probably showing off. If you have won your race and your daddy hasn't, don't mention sports day for a few weeks.

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