SlipMr Tai, the teacher in charge of athletics at SUKK Temarah, was getting on in years. He had just celebrated his 58th birthday -- an age which many would think seriously of retiring.
In the year before, however, the school team did not garner as many medals in the National Athletics Championship as expected. To make up for this disappointment, Mr Tai was determined to have his runners bring as much glory as they could in this year's National Athletics Championship.
His hopes were fired with enthusiasm this year by two promising star athletics, Farid and Hassan, who happened to be twins.
In the Annual School Sports, Farid broke the school's twenty-year record for the 100 meters event. His brother, Hassan, was just a fraction of a second behind. Since Hassan had a recurring ankle injury, Mr Tai decided to submit only Farid's name to the finals of the National Athletics Championship.
On the day he submitted the results of the best runner in the school, he mistakenly wrote Hassan' name instead.
When Mr Tai received the list of the finalists in the 100-metre event in the National Athletics Championships, he realized his mistake. However, it was too late to inform the sports secretariat.
Pride also did not allow him to admit his mistake to Farid. He decided to inform his brother, Hassan, and start grooming him in the final preparations for this prestigious event.
When Farid learnt that he was not a finalist, he could not believe his ears. Even though he was glad that his brother had qualified, he was bitterly disappointed.
To make matters worse, Mr Tai did not give him any reasons for his exclusion in the finals. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Farid as he realized that his hopes for athletic glory were dashed.
His moroseness was further compounded when he heard that his fellow athletes had believed a rumor that he had been dropped from the list because of discipline problems.
Depressed, he lost interest in his athletic practices and withdrew from his friends. His studies also suffered as his listlessness affected his academic performance.
One day, his best friend, Wen Yi, pulled him aside to have a talk. Hassan poured out his grievances and sadness to Wen Yi who then encouraged him to arrange a meeting with Mr Tai.
However, Mr Tai tried to avoid meeting Hassan. The teacher did not want to admit his mistake. When Hassan finally managed to confront Mr Tai, the latter consoled Hassan superficially and tried to make him accept that his brother was the better choice.
Farid did not do well in the National Finals. His old ankle injury cropped up at the last minute and he came in last. The school's athletics performance was at its worst that year. Mr Tai was not appointed the athletics coach the following year.
As for Farid, he withdrew from pursuing a promising athletics career. He did well enough to qualify for college and joined the Cadets. However prestigious his heart remained with running and throughout his life, he was embittered for he knew that Mr Tai had made a mistake and did not stand up to him.