It's the minute before you run the 110m hurdles at the Olympics, and you can feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins. This is the big one, the event the people have been waiting for, the hurdling spectacle that has the world enthralled. This is the culmination of four years of hard work, and you are going to run the race of your life. You tap your wrist, signalling your intention to run a world record time. You wave to the crowd, eliciting cheers from your adoring fans. You hold one finger up to the nearest television camera, confident that you are about to finish in first place. You are a gold medallist in-waiting, an athletic phenomenon.
The start gun fires, you burst out of the blocks, and absolutely fucking stack it at the very first hurdle.
This is the tale of Jeffrey Julmis, Haitian Olympian and hurdler extraordinaire. This it the tale of an athlete with the confidence of 10 men, but the jumping ability of an extremely small and possibly concussed child. Prior to running the 110m hurdle semi-final on Tuesday evening, Julmis gave the impression that he was going to flash across the assembled obstacles at the speed of light. Instead, he finished the race in last place, with a time of 25.56 seconds. That was more than 12 seconds off his personal best, with the discrepancy down largely to the fact that he attempted to clear the course without actually leaving the ground.
This is the tale of Jeffrey Julmis, but it is also a cautionary tale to us all. Do not become overconfident, lest you fall at the first hurdle. We mean that in a metaphorical sense, of course, but it has particular relevance if you are literally about to run the 110m hurdles at the Olympics.