Archive for August, 2016

Once in four years, the Olympics provide the dream platform for every athlete to compete and take pride in winning a medal for their country. Yet, Olympics has been much more than just winning. Accompanying every olympian is a story, a story of sheer grit, determination and a passion for the sport. Inspirational stories continue to be etched in history  with every passing Olympics. Not every story has a “medal winning” end to it and it need not, because every athlete competing in the Olympics does so with the aim to give their best and that is what makes this event a cut above every other sporting extravaganza.

The talk of Rio 2016 has been the Olympic refugee team. A team comprising of refugees from war-torn countries who have overcome all odds and have sent across a message of hope to all of us. Stories of people like Yusa Mardini will continue to be retold umpteen number of times to stress that even amidst all the violence and bloodshed, there is a ray of hope that better days are ahead.

Among so many athletes, there are some of our very own, who have fought valiantly and made it to the Olympic stage. Dipa Karmarkar has definitely been the talk of the Indian contingent this time. Her path to the Olympic gymnastic’s vault finals has been a bumpy one. Stories of how she had to practice without proper equipment have been shared and reshared on the internet in the past one month. We can debate endlessly on where the fault lies, with the society, the system etc but at the end of the day, there can be no doubt that it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to all of this and simultaneously stay clear of these thoughts so as to not allow them to hamper one’s performance. Perhaps, she is capable of doing better if she has the best of training, facilities, and encouragement, yet, there can be no doubt that she gave her best performance under the given circumstances. Many have in fact have performed way more admirably than was expected of them. For instance, it was a proud moment for an Indian sports enthusiast to see the way Lalita Babar ran in her 3000 m steeplechase heats. Despite falling down in the initial stages of the run, she finished in the fourth spot. That’s not all, she beat her personal best and the national record by a margin of 9 seconds. To have achieved this at the biggest sporting platform deserves all possible laurels. To me, her finish in the finals is an almost inconsequential thing, for she already stands as a role model for countless Indians to make it a habit to give our best every single time.

Derek Redmond, Lawrence Lemieux, Luz Long are examples of sportsmen who stood up for ideas of courage, sacrifice, and sportsmanship. Their stories are engraved in the history of Olympics and so are those of other not-so-well-known athletes. These sportsmen/women remind us that pursuing our passion implies that it is a new struggle every day, that being the best need not be the only way to be successful. Their stories highlight the message that success is probably measured better in terms of the attitude and the zeal to strive for excellence rather than talent and a thirst to be the best. The likes of Owens, Comaneci, Phelps, Bolt will be an inspiration to all, but so will many others for whom every moment of their Olympic dream required just as much hard work and determination as the podium finishers.