The Asian Games is starting in China from November 12 and if there is one sportsman from India who has vowed to make this trip to China a memorable one it is Vijender Singh.
Rewind back a few weeks and you will find out the reason for his do or die attitude for the coming events. It was the semi final match of the Commonwealth games. The star Indian pugilist was fighting England’s Anthony Ogogo in a 75kg bout. Stars were definitely in his favour when Vijendar knocked left, right and centre at his opponent and got 3 crucial points in the first two rounds. But then the third round began and something uncalled for happened against India. The referee penalised Vijendar just 30 seconds before the finish. All those who watched the fight live and on their TV screens could not believe how a man who was technically superior, more fit and more aggressive than his boxing opponent, could be penalised just 30 second before his win, for a wrong he had not even committed. The shocked silence of the Indian fans could not save the match or the win of the English man. Vijendar had to finally satisfy with a Bronze.
The thing is, the Commonwealth games is over, India is celebrating the success with which it was organised and the shower of medals the country received from its sportsmen. But behind the smiling faces of Saina, Sushil and Abhinav Bindra who always knew they would make it big there is also the grim Vijendar, watching from sidelines the praise being showered on his ‘winner’ colleagues. It is the hardest way to learn a harsh reality of life – You are as good as you last win.
Vijendar Singh came into the limelight after the Beijing Olympics where he won the Olympic bronze for India. After his historical win, there was no television channel, no newspaper in India that did not interview him or make him look like a king who had just won his biggest battle. Added to this were his good looks, chiselled body and soon Vijendar was the flavour of the season for bollywood and page 3 parties.
Then came the fateful game at the Delhi commonwealth games. It was supposed to be a day when India’s magnificent boxer was to set the juggernaut rolling. But it ended in the most farcical of ways that saw world champion Vijender Singh being knocked out of the games in a bizarre fashion at the Talkatora Stadium.
Vijendar Singh was the victim of wrong judgment on the referee’s part when everyone saw that it was actually his lesser talented opponent who was continuously coming close to Vijendar and provoking him to make a penalising move. In boxing in case of warnings, two points are awarded if a boxer hits his opponent below the waist. Incidentally, Vijender was trying to push Ogogo away from him whom the referee mistook as punching below the waist and penalised him. Finally, the twisted winning strategy led the English player to win his career’s best match against a tougher opponent.
Vijender’s frustration came out later when he said he never thought he would have to settle for bronze due to “unfair” refereeing, which could have been prevented had the Indian federation been “proactive”.
And just as Vijeneder had become a celebrity overnight, he became a black mark for India in a day. No one wished to know how he lost, or even praise him for the tough fight he gave. The only thing important for the country was that he could not live up to the expectations and that was that.
“It’s my body, not a machine. Sometimes it performs to expectations, sometimes it doesn’t. What to do, it’s just a bronze in my destiny,”said a heartbroken Vijender after the match.
It is a very hard life that sports persons lead in India. To get to a point where you can become a household name, needs lots and lots of hard work, perseverance, dedication and sacrifices. There are times when you family does not support you for your maniac like training sessions and the cost of your practice equipments. Times when there are no good coaches or good practice areas around your home and you have to travel miles and cities to nurture your dreams. There are ample incidents when life puts you in a crossroad where you either quit the whole sports craze forever or quit every other thing in your personal life to chase your passion. And you never know if the struggle would reap reward, would one day make you a little bit known for what you do.
People like Vijendar Singh, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom have seen all those struggles, anguish and overcome them like a supreme fighter. And therefore, one lost bout cannot make Vijender an inferior fighter and that is what Indians have to learn. You cannot judge people like Vijender and Sania from a single game because in the overall challenges of life, these people have proven that they are much more stronger and determined than the common man.
If Virendar Sehwag can be given another chance to prove himself in Cricket, if Arjun chatwal can make a historical comeback in Golf, then Vijendar can definitely be a winner once again. All he needs now is motivation from us Indians to go there and fight. He also needs extra assurance that even if he cannot win a medal, he is a winner and will remain a winner for us forever in our hearts. It is time we learnt that one loss cannot take away the series of wins and proud moment that a person got for his country. It is time we nurtured hope and dreams and not condemned sportsmen to days of nightmares.