Our heroes are in Tokyo
The Olympic Games, they call if the greatest show on the earth. Johnny Weir (2 times Olympian) rightly said, The Olympics are an event that few can fathom but all can enjoy, and that’s why athletes work our whole lives to put on the greatest show on Earth
This year is not like every other year, Citius — Altius — Fortius — the Olympic motto, Faster — Higher and Stronger are ingrained in every athlete’s mind and heart as they prepare for the culmination of the event and this year they may need to keep in mind the fourth one, maior or Older.
The world took a pause, everything just stopped, however there is one thing which we neither cannot stop, or pause and that is Father Time & there was no other person who was more affected due to this pandemic, then the sportsman and athlete. Cause, you can always study from home, we can even work from home, slowly your lives can pick up from where you left, some threads less, some more, some stronger and some weaker, but we can surely pick them up. However not so easy for an athlete or sportsman.
The sports life is different, they are built different.
The difference between qualifying and not is nano seconds, the holding of a small breadth of nerves can be the difference between joy and despair. Not many may remember or even know, but when PT Usha missed an Olympic medal by a heart breaking margin of 1/100th of a second behind the eventual bronze medallist in the 400 m hurdles final in 1984.
As Jesse Owens (4 time Olympic Gold medal winner) said — A lifetime of training for just ten seconds.” –
When such differences matter, can you imagine adding a year to your age, with almost no training for few months and eventually then training in unfamiliar settings, irregular routines, constant news of illness all around, death to our loved ones etc.
With all the modern techniques & technology being built into the sports and the stress on peak performance and mental strength and physical conditioning, it will be very challenging for the athletes to recover from break and come back to the peak performance levels, both mentally and physically.
So dear athletes, you are all winners, this has been a year of turmoil & historic uncertainties, It has been widely written that during the Ancient Games held in Greece, all conflicts among the participating city-states were postponed until the Games were finished. This cessation of hostilities was known as the Olympic peace or truce. However, you could not even get this truce with this invisible war that we are all dealing with.
So there is nothing but praise for all those who persevered, pursued and participated, for a nation which can see nothing beyond cricket, where there almost no facilities or support to other sports, to come up and rise and shine.
To participate against all odds, for the sacrifices the families of athletes like our fencer Bhavani Devi whose father was a priest and her mother sold her jewellery in the initial years or the strange journey of Sajan Prakash, who had achieved the ‘B’ (standby) qualification mark for the Tokyo Olympics in July 2019, suffered a slipped disc in the neck in December that year. After he just about recovered from that, he went to Phuket, Thailand on a FINA scholarship but was stranded there for five months due to the covid-19 pandemic and finally became the first Indian swimmer to automatically qualify for the Olympics. (Stories Linked). There are such legends and heroes amongst us and they are not here in Bollywood, but in Tokyo.
From PT Usha to Mirabai, we have come a long way, And there will be so many more, There will be some who did not make the cut, some winners and some of you will fall short at the first hurdle or heartbreakingly at the last, however win or lose, your stories will be heard and deserve to become folklore as you have not only inspired a generation but also a nation.
You are the athletes in the arena and as rightly said “ so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt — Man in the arena