There’s no time for self-pity. Wufen and his men are watching us like hawks. Their eyes tell us explicitly that if we get out of line, we are dead.

I’m surprised when Wufen himself leads us in a warm-up of 100 squats and 100 push-ups. We only get a few minutes of rest before the next warm-up of 100 high kicks on either foot.

I glance at Nqo, afraid she will fall short because of her injured knee. I see that she is keeping pace – her face is a frown of determination although she is clearly in excruciating pain.

“Stop!” says Wufen.

We stop, all out of breath.

“Well done! Give yourselves a round of applause!” says Wufen.

We clap our hands but the applause is barely audible.

“Hey!” screams Wufen. “I said give yourselves a round of applause! We have never yet seen a group that can withstand the full warm-up after such a long journey! If it were up to me, I’d tell Kapo to keep all of you and kill no-one. I like you guys, but it is not up to me. Give yourselves a round of applause!”

We try again to clap our hands but the warm-up has drained us of all energy. The applause is still weak.

“What’s your problem?” Wufen says angrily.

“We have no energy because we are hungry,” says a voice behind me. From the accent I can tell it is one of the Russian guys.

Wufen breaks into a sick smile.

“You don’t eat when you are at war. Or don’t you realize that you are at war? You are not here for food. You are here to fight for your lives! How will you fight if you are complaining already? You are complaining after going hungry for just one day? A soldier doesn’t go hungry, never tires, never complains, never gets drowsy and never sleeps. In this world it is only one of two ways.”

Wufen collects his breath.

“It’s either you are a predator or prey! In this organization we are predators. If you choose to be soft ask a banana what happens to things that are soft. They get squashed and eaten! Is that what you want? Do you want to be squashed and eaten?”

“No, Sir!”

“Good! That is why you have to show that you are worthy of being members of our organisation. Now, Kapo has arrived. You better make him happy by showing your killer instinct. Otherwise you will be killed.”

Now we hear applause and chants coming closer, from a distance: “Iya! Iya! Iya!”

Wufen points to the door behind him with his thumb. He smirks and says, “Here they come! Are you ready?”

“Yes, Sir!”


Tell us: People talk about ‘killer instinct’ in sport. Do you think champions must have this extreme determination?