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Sports often teach us a lot, and the recently concluded Olympics are no exception. Here are 8 life lessons from the RIO Olympics.
When I was growing up, Olympics and sports were limited to the general knowledge quizzes I was made to participate in. Beyond a few questions and the latest news items, I never needed more. It wasn’t a girls’ thing, but physical activity was never an area of interest in my world. A couple of smashes on the badminton court or stacking the tiles to an even seven was all I could do. When the rebel teenager in me put her foot down, my Mum asked a neighbour to teach me dance and yoga. And that clicked. For two years.
Watching Olympics or a cricket match came much later in life. The interest spiked slowly and it was then that I realized all that I had missed. A new world opened up, but the acceptance was slow. It took time but a science lover like me soon developed a liking for sports. It was like love in those moments of tension, the pressure of the impending goal, and then the disappointment in a lost game.
I am still on that trajectory. I still would not leave a book to watch a game. But these Olympics brought out a different me. From blocking my calendar to watch a game, to being upset when my favourite player lost, this time, I enjoyed all that came along with those moments of action on the idiot box.
There were also a couple of lessons that will stay with me. Some that better be documented for me to read in moments of self-doubt.
In those 100/200 meters or steeplechase runs, the runners knew that they were not making it first to the finish line. Still, they ran. They ran to finish the game.
Winning or losing is not the end, it is completing what you take up in life. It is following through your commitment and participating to the best of your ability. Before you give up, look back at the efforts and time you have put in. Finishing what you take up will always emerge above quitting.
If you win, someone else will lose. That’s how it is – and is meant to be. Beyond the person, it is the effort that deserves accolades.
These Olympics, I saw rivals come together to hug and congratulate each other. I saw how taking care of each other is equally important to get the ball rolling. The sportsmanship needs to be celebrated and as a team whether from one country or not, players celebrated wins.
It is possible that you lose when you start but that should not stop you from delivering your best the next time, or the next time or the next time. The only way to be content is to keep giving your best, always. In all situations and tough circumstances without losing hope or face. When success comes, it does not time itself. The last couple of seconds could make all the difference so give your best.
When a wrestler wins, it may seem that the flip got the points but never forget the effort of the coach who taught the flip. There is a father who dropped this young wrestler to her sports academy for practice. A mother who challenged all stereotypes to support her daughter’s dream.
A win is a collaboration and a partnership. While there is one who delivers and takes away the medal, there are many others who make it possible.
A Produnova is the hardest vault performed in women’s artistic gymnastics. But if a player fears it, she will never attempt it.
You have to beat the fear to go far. You have to challenge the status quo to shine. She may still fail but that’s not the point. Success comes to those who are persistent and fear limits us to reach our potential.
Four years and so many players set goals to grab the shining gold medal. But is that enough? A medal needs grit and determination. Willingness to work hard and give it a hundred percent. Sometimes physical injuries, lack of facilities or support comes in between, but for a player, nothing should deter her.
It’s not easy but that level of determination is the most important element of success.
As I watched Pullela Gopichand support his protegés, I felt proud of being a teachers’ daughter. A teacher is one who never loses patience but encourages and support. One who can calm the nerves and still get the best out of her protegé. One whose passion shines on the face of the taught.
Throughout the Olympics, many coaches sat holding their breath. They smiled at a hit and did not lose hope on a miss.
Only those who dream can see a dream come true. So dream and work towards it.
As I think of many more lessons I have learnt this Olympics, I feel good that these lessons have come at a right point in life. There are no games to be played now but these lessons will be remembered as I cruise through my life. As I balance work, blogging and taking care of my loved ones, these lessons will not let me give up. They will give me the courage to finish the game and value those who were a part of the journey.
Published here earlier.
Image source: youtube.
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Interview with Girish H.N. - the high jump athlete representing India at the Paralympics 2012 in London.
Guest Blogger Arundhati Venkatesh is an engineer by degree. An IT professional in her previous life, she now works for an NGO, is an aspiring writer and kid-lit enthusiast, a mother, an observer of life and people, a feminist, a minimalist and a compulsive maker of lists! She blogs at Arundhativ.
Girish H.N. (B.A.) is representing India in the Paralympics 2012 at London. He will be competing in the high jump event. The 24 year-old has an impairment in his left leg, but that doesn’t deter him from making leaps as high as 1.8 meters. In the past, Girish has won medals at the Asian Championship and the World Games for the Disabled. I spoke to this enthusiastic and promising sportsperson shortly before his departure.
Arundhati Venkatesh (AV): How does it feel to be representing the country?