1- A_S, How to Act Etereal in a Downpour

Moya Brennan Forum Olympics 2008 - read only as all completed in 2008.

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1- A_S, How to Act Etereal in a Downpour

Postby A_S » Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:24 pm

Aoife McColgan, Ireland’s best hope for a medal in the women’s road race, stood at the roadside, gripping her bike. “I’ve got a flat,” she said simply when her team car pulled up beside her. Aoife squinted through the rain, waiting for her coach, Chris, to come out with a spare wheel.
Chris didn’t come. Instead, a short woman with light hair and a huge smile opened the door and hopped out into the downpour outside, wheel in arm.
“Who on earth are you?” Aoife cried. “Where’s Chris? I haven’t got time for this!”
The woman offered her hand in greeting. “I’m Moya Brennan.”
“You mean, like the singer? Clannad?”Aoife was exasperated. She was in fact a Clannad fan, and would normally have been excited to meet Moya. At that particular moment, though, the other riders were pulling farther and farther away from Aoife, snatching her Olympic hopes away with them.
“Do you know how to change a wheel?” Aoife asked, trying to calm down.
“Well, see,” Moya explained, “I’m not really good with bikes. Never got the hang of riding them myself. I’m here more as moral support. I’ve got this song, see, “Green to Gold”, and I’m supposed to sing it to the athletes to get their confidence up. You seem like you need a cheering up right now.”
Aoife stared at her. This couldn’t be happening. “I don’t need a “cheering up”. I need a new wheel. I need my coach! Where is he?”
“He’s right here in the car. I wanted to help, so he said that I could handle your problem, that it would be easy. Changing wheels wasn’t in the job description when they phoned me back home to ask me to come to China, though, so I don’t know how to do it. How about I sing to you, and you take care of the wheel?” Moya smiled helpfully.
Aoife was seething. She grabbed the wheel from Moya. This is ridiculous, she thought. Chris must be insane to send this woman out here instead. Our hope for gold, going to nothing and he lets this singer try to help me?!

“… until I find glory there’ll be no finish line…”

An airy, angelic voice cut through the rain and severed Aoife’s train of angry thoughts. She clamped her new wheel into place and looked up.
There was Moya. Her Team Ireland t-shirt was soaked, her face dripping with rainwater, and her hair in wet strands. Yet she looked so peaceful, almost transcendent. Her eyes were closed, and it was from her mouth that the song emerged. Aoife thought that Moya was crazy, or at least far from helpful, but she couldn’t help but be affected by her voice. She remembered listening to her father’s Clannad records as a child, and how then this same woman’s voice had been able to calm the frustration of falling off her bike or doing poorly on an exam at school or whatever bothered her. Now, it was Moya’s voice that dispelled her anger once more and made her want to get back on her bike and ride as she never had before, possibly even to gold.
If she could catch up with the other riders. They had been out of sight for several minutes already, and, because these were the Olympics, no one was holding back.
Aoife swung onto her bike and pushed off. Moya was still singing on the roadside, and Aoife could hear her voice still as she clipped into her pedals and rode away in pursuit of the others.

“…to bring the green to gold…”

Logically, there was no way that Aoife could get back into this race. She was too far behind. Yet she pedaled as she never had before, working in her largest chain ring even up the hills, not heeding the fatigue in her legs or the spray of water her wheels shot up at her from the pavement. Moya’s song was stuck on loop in her head, a constant reminder of the promise of winning a medal for Ireland.

*******

Moya watched Aoife speed up the long, straight stretch of road before her. Then she swung the car door open, climbed in, and accepted the towel that Chris held out to her.
“Right,” Moya said. “I think that could be called a success. Although, I did feel a bit stupid acting all ethereal out there on the side of the road in the rain!” Moya laughed.
Chris’s eyebrows were raised. “You sang to her? I know that’s your job and all, but why didn’t you just tell me that you didn’t know how to change a tire in the first place?”
“Minor detail,” Moya answered, dismissively. “Besides, it worked. Look where Aoife is now!” And she was right. Aoife was miles ahead of them.

*********

200 meters to go. Aoife broke into her sprint. She was tired, far more so than the other riders. Aoife was the only one who had had to catch up not only with the main field, but with the breakaway group off the front, with which she now rode. But she was also the only one who had run in with Moya Brennan along the course, and that, it turned out, counted for more than plain physical strength in this final stretch.
There was the line. Aoife crossed it. She tumbled off her bike, utterly exhausted. Her minder caught her, then embraced her.
“Bronze! From behind everyone to winning bronze, Aoife!” the woman exclaimed.

An hour later, Aoife climbed onto the third step of the podium. She accepted the bronze medal and watched the Irish flag rise up the pole ahead of her. An anthem played, not Ireland’s, but Aoife had no regrets. Coming from behind and all, she considered bringing the Green to bronze to be more than enough.

~980 words

Note: No one from Ireland actually finished the women's road race. Oh, and Moya may very well know how to change a bike tire in real life. :D
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A_S
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