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They Play and Teach us Lessons in Life

Sports people are a determined lot. They will push themselves to the limits to win, no matter if it is a neighbourhood match or an international event. What all successful sportspersons have in common is the way they have their eyes set on the goal and nothing else – the pain, the hard work, or the perspiration, comes in their way until they reach their goal.

But some Indian Sportsmen in the recent past have shown certain degrees of accomplishments that are beyond the normal norms of sports and while they inspire other sports lovers, they also teach how a common person like you and me can do uncommon deeds in our everyday lives. Here are stories of three Indian sportmens who play and teach us lessons in life,

Lessons from a Golfer

No one ever thought that an Indian golfer would one day win a USPGA tournament and even if someone cherished that dream, Arjun Atwal was not the name they associated with, with the pioneering victory.

Arjun was battling with a shoulder injury, was not in his best form for a prolonged time and at personal level emotionally disturbed because of his father’s battle with cancer. But he was indeed the man who brought PGA triumph to India and showed that the lows in life cannot stop anyone from regaining the highs.

What made him stick to his guts, and play his best ever, was a voice that kept telling him to keep working harder than ever before. In his  own words, “If you don’t know how to lose, then you might as well stop playing golf. Losing, or failure are part of the package that is life. Coping with it is a skill not everyone has. But a true sportsperson has it.”

Lessons this hidden hero teaches us –

There is no failure except in no longer trying. –Elbert Hubbard

Lessons from a Wrestler

He had already proven to the world through his stellar performance at the Beijing Olympics that his was a name to reckon with in the wrestling world, but while many success stories become one time wonders whatever be the field, Sushil Kumar made sure that his was not a name people uttered with past victories but rather with an ongoing array of wins one after the other.

Winning an Olympic bronze for a nation starved of Olympic wins is no common feat and that could have easily been a glorified end of an injury prone wrestling career for Sushil Kumar. He could have easily chosen the less action packed career of a selector, a national advisor or a dignified coach, but he did not do that. What he chose was not to bask in the glory of one success but aim for a higher goal.

That choice made bronze medallist Sushil Kumar, World Wrestling Champion Sushil Kumar. What is more, he is already training for his next battle – the Commonwealth Games.

Lesson we learn from this sports icon –

What you are must always displease you, if you would attain to that which you are not.
-St. Augustine

Lessons from a Tennis Player

He is currently in the news for mixing politics and sports. And while many cricketers and hockey players have turned the playground into a battleground in the past whenever the two countries named India and Pakistan played with each other, two shy men from the same two countries, made sure that the world saw them play on not opposite but the same side of the net combining strengths to win matches and hearts.

Ask Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi about their odd pairing and they would say that the country of their birth was the last thing in their mind when they became a team. It was more to do with the individual comradeship, compatibility and the synergistic strengths they brought into a game.

A doubles match in Tennis is much more difficult to play than a singles because of the very reason that there are two minds working on the shots and volleys instead of one. It needs perfect coordination, perfect sense of timing, lots of trust and being in sync with your partner’s thoughts to play as one team and not two individuals on the court.

So what Rohan and Aisam have done in the US opens this year in no ordinary act. They showed that it was possible to bury the grudges so deep that the soul breathed as one and it was not a Pakistani and Indian playing anymore but two tennis pros earnestly trying to win. Their victory filled the individual nations with pride just like any other sportsman’s victorious achievements but their victory together made it extra sweet.

It is not definitely a tennis match that can end the critical relationship between two clashing neighbouring countries, but what it can do is to make people know people at individual levels beyond the tag of the nationality. It can make us cry, shout, cheer and clap together. It can make us chant slogans together. It can make us be brothers again if only for a few minutes who share a common history and can possibly move towards a brighter future without turning into beasts ready to shed the others blood.

As Rohan says, “We want people to trust and respect each other. Sports should never be subject to religion or politics.”

Lesson we learn from these men with a mission –

Since war begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defence of peace must be constructed.
– UNESCO constitution


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8 Responses

  1. Hi Atula,

    This is a simple, but wonderful article about the profound truths of life, that so few in India have succeeded in realizing. I am delighted to find an Indian celebrate and appreciate sport, such as you. I was watching Common wealth Games all evening and wanted to understand what sports actually teach us. I found your article.

    Saina Nehwal story inspires me too. She could make a great example in this column too. How about yourself? First, I would congratulate you for following your true passion, over chemistry. Second, what sports do you play yourself?

    • Thank you Sandesh for your comments. I think sportsmen are a great inspiration because every second they play, they are conquering their inner battles to become a winner.
      As suggested by you, there is already a post on Saina Nehwa. Do read and comment.
      Regarding my love for sports, I was a national Basketball player , bunked college to watch cricket, and turn to the sports news page of the newspaper every morning before any other ‘regular’ news..:)

      • hi atula, i read the article, made me all the more a bigger admirer of saina. i could not get back to you as i forgot your website. i have bookmarked it now. Almost every article i see on your website resonates with my interests and looks like i should spend some serious time reading them all.

        national player, wow…what are you some 5’10 or something..? just kidding…we got one of our colleagues too…which years did you play? where are you based out of? is there an email i can reach you at?

        • Thanks sandesh for bookmarking the site. Indianblogger is full of articles on a wide range of topics and I am sure you will enjoy getting regular updates.
          I’ll be happy to be in touch with an intuitive reader and you can always contact me via this site…:)
          Wish you and your family a very happy diwali.

  2. A very innovative topic – I like the last message the best – and I am happy that we now have sportmen spreading this wonderful message of peace.

    • Thank you. Indeed peaceful matches between nations have been played many times, but not many sportmen have intentionally paired with a ‘supposed foe’ and cultivated a comradeship. It should definitely be an inspiration.