It’s the dream of every athlete to represent their country at the Olympic Games. But even after years of hard work, few get the chance to achieve it. Some will put it down to talent; others may say its luck. But as someone who was close, I can tell you it’s neither of those things. It’s about sacrifice and dedication.
Let us go through some of the sacrifices made by the determined athletes to go back home with medals and glory for their country.
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Sindhu became the first Indian woman athlete to grab an Olympic silver in the just-concluded Games when she lost a close final clash against World No.1 Carolina Marin of Spain.
Operation Rio began in 2015 when coach Pullela Gopichand decided to appoint a fitness expert and a weight trainer to work on Sindhu. He also wanted Sindhu to develop aggression, and so made her scream right in the middle of her practice session 10 months back, refusing to continue the session until she had screamed.
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She was also forced to stay away from her phone and her favourite sweet curd, all because her coach, Pullela Gopichand wanted her to focus only on one objective, success at Rio 2016.
That’s the level of dedication her team had from the start and rightly so, as Rome wasn’t built in a day nor is champions made in one!
Sakshi Malik scripted history by becoming the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal and only fourth female athlete from the country to climb to the podium at the biggest sporting event in the world.
The 23-year-old from Mokhra village began her training in wrestling as a 12-year-old under the guidance of Ishwar Dahiya at an akhara in the Chotu Ram stadium. Her grooming was helped along by having to fight a lot of boys, in a region where the sport was ‘not for girls’. In fact, Dahiya faced protests from locals when he took Sakshi under his wing.
Most of us will never know the true measure of sacrifice and hard work that made Michael Phelps the best. As a teenager, while most of his friends were out being kids, he was in the pool and in the gym. Phelps won his first ever silver as part of the 400-meter relay team. His medal collection leaves him a mere two medals away from becoming the winningest athlete in Olympic history.
Bolt has come a long way from the playful child who learned to run in the parish of Trelawney, Jamaica and would cry when he lost a race.
The world needs to be grateful to his parents for giving us the man that took our senses on this journey of heightened pleasure, a joy so unparalleled that any comparison merely pales into insignificance. But the two men that the world really owes a debt of gratitude to are Glen Mills and Lorna Thorpe.
The fact that Bolt ran the three fastest 100m times and four of the six fastest 200m times, including the WR of 19.19s, is a tribute to the discipline and work ethic of Bolt. It has taken an enormous amount of planning and hard work to create an incomparable body of athletic work.