by NAA

Santa Clara International Invitational Swim Meet, circa 1996:

The officials has just ended our warm-up session, so I climbed out of the pool and headed toward our team’s tent to dry off and stretch before prelims. Among the throng of swimmers fiddling with wet caps and googles, I noticed a little kid walking across the crowded pool deck.

He stood out because a) he was smaller than everyone else, and b) he was fully clothed. The poor kid wore his shorts as high as they would go – nearly to his chest – with his t-shirt tucked in. Worse still, his socks were pulled up to his knees, leaving only an inch or so between the sock and hem of his shorts.

I had scarcely noticed the kid when Sabir Muhammad stopped short in front of him. Without saying a word, the six-foot-seven sprinter leaned down and tugged the kid’s socks down to his ankles, untucked his shirt, and straightened his shorts so they fell at his waist – not his armpits. Sabir stood up, and with a curt nod of approval, kept walking. He never said a word.