The packed stadium rushes into silence, silence that is at once loud in its intensity and quiet in its anticipation.

Not a murmur is heard.

Agnes Bearton, eighty-eight, three times world champion, Olympic champion, national champion and current world record holder, waits patiently, gathering her physical and emotional energies together to make this, her third and final attempt to clear the washing line.

Now she starts to run. The crowd clap rhythmically, urging her onward. She leaps, and as she rises into the air so too does the roar of the stadium. She attains the line, the noise of the crowd reaches its climax, and bursts into cheering, shouting and stamping of feet.

She’s done it.

Agnes Bearton stands still, absorbing the rapture she feels and she hears; and smiles to herself, just as she did all those many years ago.

Paul Dominic Gray June 2019

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