Recently I read “Shoe Dog by Phil Knight” and it instantly became a personal favorite. It was about sport and the man who tried to redefine sports and ultimately succeeded. All of us love sports. Watching our favorite teams/players play makes us energized and emotional. Sports unite people from all walks of life.
Many of us would have been on sports teams during our school and college days and eventually stopped playing due to various reasons. I’m one of them. I’ve never seen myself as a successful sportsman. But I loved everything about sports. It requires a certain discipline. Right from what you wear to how you do it. Everything matters.
When I was around 11 years old, I joined a swimming camp. The coach taught us how to swim for the first few weeks. Towards the end of the camp, we’re asked to dive into the pool where the depth would be around 8ft-10ft and you’re supposed to swim to the shallow part of the pool. Obviously, it was frightening in the beginning but as days passed by, we got accustomed to it. As soon as the camp ended, we were let free. I and my friends would meet up regularly for 90 minutes of swimming. The more we swam, the more we explored about this sport. We’d dive, swim underwater at a depth of 12ft, take some endurance sessions, etc. Indeed it pains, but we loved it. We just swam.
But, it came to an end after few years as we moved to various cities to pursue our graduate studies. This was my introduction to the world of sports.
The year after I went to the swimming camp, I joined a Table Tennis camp. The coaches would train us every day. It’d be 40 minutes of outdoor workout and another 20 minutes of indoor training to sharpen our concentration. In the beginning, we’d be like, “why on earth are we doing all these? We could just go over to the table and start playing.” Later we realized that it was always about fitness. Fitness and the game are directly proportional.
The camp got unofficially extended for the newbies who performed well. Fortunately, I got a spot. And this was intensive training both on and off the table. It was not child’s play anymore. Training programs were charted for the players. We were supposed to work out to strengthen our calves, reflexes, wrist, hip, neck, shoulders, and almost all parts of our body. And, immediately after completing that, we’re trained on the game. By the end of the session, we’d literally fall off.
It was intense. But, the players who passed through this became a part of the school and club teams. Tournaments, win, and loss, became a routine. And that went for a year or two after which I was asked to stop playing. The creepy crappy “board exams” came in and I was forced to stay away from the kit for a long time. In no time, I lost the fitness, lost the form, and my game sucked big time. Oh, I sucked in my exams too. You can’t expect any respect in your middle-class household if you mess up something as big as a board exam.
I got admitted to a college 350kms away from my home. That means, no buddies, no training sessions, and no coaches. After a long break, I took up TT again. This time, it was self-training. There was no coach exclusively for the game. I was a madman all through the 4 years of my college life. It had temporary and permanent impacts on my character and lifestyle. I can say, those were the difficult 4 years of my life.
The lonely training sessions
Quickly I was on the college team and often it’d be only me running around the indoor stadium. Friends and teammates would accompany me a few days. The aura of the stadium would help me push. Running is good. It’s great! I used to run three or four laps in which the last lap would be the fastest and toughest as the muscles would start paining a lot. You need to go all out on the last lap.
One thing that’d come automatically to my mind when I ran the last lap would be the sufferings and pains which I was facing and the ones which I was going to face. The thoughts made me push and complete the final lap. In life, we always need to push hard. I failed a lot in my academics. My interests and my academics were divergent. I would flunk my exams and run an extra lap that evening. The last lap was the remedy for all the shit I went through. I’d get a satisfaction when I completed the session.
The harder you push, the more you are pulled. – Nike
The sport was not anymore a time pass for me. It became an integral part. But, as years went by, the dedication reduced and I never stepped into the stadium as my life was full of crap. Then started the next big break.
Work Life and to the days to come
I completely stopped TT or swimming after college. It’s been two years since I had sweat or my muscles ached from intense workouts. Now I’ve taken up cycling and had ridden around 300kms. No, it’s not new year resolution. I don’t believe in resolutions.
It’s the never-ending love for sports.
It’s the never-ending determination to push an extra mile.
It’s the never-ending act to challenge myself.
With sport, life is good.
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