Nowadays they talk about this guy named Sisyphus whose business it was to roll rocks up a hill. Sounds about as exciting as a weekend party at South House, huh? Well there's more. Every time he got the rock to the top of the hill it would roll back down and he'd have to start all over again.
Sisyphus isn't around anymore, but there's another guy pushing rocks up a hill. His name is Ed Ajootian and the symbol of his frustration is a 35-pound metal weight.
For weight throwers, happiness is measured in five-foot increments. The fair-to-middling types manage to fling the ball 60 feet, but the real heavies are the ones who make it go past 65. And all season long Ajootian has been somewhere in between.
"When I started out this season I had two main goals: to beat the Harvard record of 64-ft., 5-in and to shoot past the 65-ft. mark," Ajootian laments. "So I went down and threw the weight for five straight weeks. Before each meet I told myself, 'This is going to be it,' but I got absolutely nowhere."
But if Ajootian went nowhere, then everyone should go there. Among his herculean performances this season were a 63-ft. 2 1/2-in. first place against Army, a 63-ft. 8-in. in the IC4As, and a somewhat disappointing ("I wanted to throw a 64 or 65") 62-ft. 11-in., for a sixth place slot in yesterday's Nationals, held in Detroit.
Ajootian has been a standout in an indoor track and field season constantly beset by landslides. Coming off last year's team has only managed to eke out a paltry 1-3 record and a poor showing in the championship meets. Coach Bill McCurdy, after it was all over, described the injury-plagued team's performance as disheartening.
Competing on the side of a losing team can be as frustrating as trying to say "Providence, Rhode Island," without falling asleep, but it never bothered Ajootian. For him, track and field is a very personal, almost private experience.
"I go for whatever I can," he says. "Although they add up the team points, in track and field, individual performance is the key."
The dissatisfied Ajootian is naturally looking forward to next year. "I'm getting ready for next year by working on my technique. Since I'm relatively small for this event, form is important for me."
So watch out for falling rocks next year, fans.