NOT the MotoGP News: This black heart
Luis Salom died this weekend and so did arguably one of the greatest and certainly one of the best known sportsmen we have ever seen, Muhammad Ali.
Ali was 74, and was ill. And for the past 35 years he had been living in retirement. He had a life so hard and tough, that few of us would know a tenth of what he had to overcome to achieve titles, to meet the ridiculous goals he set himself, knowing it was the only way to beat his opponents. At 74 years Ali’s death wasn’t such a shock, yet it was a moment of deep and utter sadness. An athlete with such skill and with such power, yet his fame moved through the barriers of sport, and reached out to the widest parts of the world. He was an activist, a wit, and showman, and a show off.
Luis Salom was also a sportsman. Not at a level anywhere near Ali’s, yet his death is all the more tragic. Not even one third of Ali’s age, and killed. I could say taken away, or tragically lost, but in the cold hard reality of this world, he was killed. At 24 Luis Salom was in the peak of his young life; fit, fast and fearless. Compared to Ali, he had maybe 50 years stretching ahead of him. Fifty years to continue to race. To travel the world. And then to maybe retire. To do what Ali did – enjoy the rest of his life to the best of his abilities.
The death of a rider in any series is so bad and sad. This weekend the race in Barcelona coincides with the Isle of Man TT, and this weekend two riders there lost their lives. Dwight Beare and Paul Shoesmith.
The hollowness and hardness of the death of a rider is hard to explain. I never met Luis, Dwight or Paul, and yet for all of us who watch, it can feel like a loved one, a relative has died. Someone we are close to. The fact that they can do what we cannot, and we feel the need to watch is part of it. They raise our heart, raise our excitement, make us enjoy a spectacle that brings with it a close connection. We have little or no idea how they do it, we just know that we respect them and love them for doing it for us.
And then they are gone. Snatched away. No longer so happy to have won, or even just to have finished. No longer hearing a name you knew, but didn’t really know or follow. A vacuum that can’t be filled.
I’m really sorry – this is the only time I mentioned Luis in my columns this season; http://motogpbrits.com/2016/03/24/not-the-motogp-news-qatar-lights-camera-false-start/
This poem by Ted Hughes is sorely hard to read. A black, dispirited poem that continues to haunt me ever since I read it when I was 17. I shall miss Luis Salom beyond words.
His palace is of skulls
His crown is the last splinters
Of the vessel of life.
His throne is the scaffold of bones, the hanged thing’s
Rack and final stretcher.
His robe is the black of the last blood.
His kingdom is empty –
The empty world, from which the last cry
Flapped hugely, hopelessly away
Into the blindness and dumbness and deafness of the gulf
Returning, shrunk, silent
To reign over silence.
NOT The MotoGP News is our blog by Guy Anderson. Go follow Guy on Twitter – @SirGuyGuisborne