Sunday, 17 August 2008

One World - One Dream!

"Almost two thirds of our planet is covered with water. The earliest life-forms in this planet all evolved through water. Isn't it fitting that the greatest champion ever on the planet is from Water? After all, the blue whale, the largest mammal in the planet is from water. Right?" … these were my initial thoughts on hearing the biggest sporting feat that was achieved today.

Well, what happened today then? Michael Phelps of the United States of America won his 8th gold medal in swimming events at the ongoing Beijing 2008 Olympic games, breaking all previous records to become the greatest Olympian of all times. Phew! Isn't that a phenomenal achievement? What's more? He leads the list of all time gold medal winners in Olympics by having won 14 golds!

Olympics is the greatest sporting event that happens in the world. A medal at these games is any country's aspiration and the dream of every athlete. Winning a medal is in itself a spectacular achievement. But winning gold - not one, not two - but eight of them - awesome! I am at real loss of words at such an amazing feat. I consider myself lucky that I witnessed the breaking of this record live on television. Even though it was Phelps' moment of glory, I felt honored to have seen it happen live!

I am not an ardent follower of the games nor do I know how many events are held in total at the present Olympic games. But being a supporter of all sports, I have been following the important news of Olympics very closely. When the media in our country had not grown to such obnoxious levels, our very own Doordarshan used to air some of the track and field, swimming and indoor events of the Olympics. I also faintly remember watching the Opening ceremony of the games (maybe Atlanta, 1996 or Sydney, 2000) These games have always captivated me. Athletes from all over the world coming together regardless of their race, culture, socio-political situation in the country and playing in the spirit of the game is what makes these events so remarkable. I wanted India to win a medal in any event that it participated. But soon, I learnt that our country's record at the games was not a one to be envied at. With the mentally tough Chinese and Japanese on one side, the quick Africans on other and the physically well-built athletes from Australia and US, India never stood a chance. Nevertheless, I was happy for the games itself and celebrated the lone bronze or silver medals that came in our way.

Just a fortnight ago, I didn't even know of someone called Phelps. For that matter, I dint even know someone called Abhinav Bindra. Thanks to a cricket-crazy nation like ours, and the media hype surrounding only few players, there was nothing much I knew about them. India's most successful individual moment of glory came in this Olympics when Abhinav made us proud by winning the first individual gold medal for India since 1900. It could be rated right there as one the greatest sporting achievements by India.

Applauses and prizes kept pouring in for Abhinav from the time the news of the medal came. Governments of state, sports organizations, companies, business tycoons all over the country went on to announce awards for him. I felt good that some sport other than cricket is finally getting its due in this nation. It is now time the governments started thinking more than just announcing awards and followed it up by encouraging more and more people into taking up sports as professionals. For a nation of over one billion people, just an individual gold medal at Olympics is not enough. The infrastructure for sports should be set-up, transparency in selection should be ensured and more importantly, the budding talents should be nurtured so that they focus clearly on their goals - getting glory for our nation.

When we see China or the United States winning so many medals in Olympics in event after event, every four years, we just admire their talent, praise their achievements, grumble that our country can never get there and forget all about it once the events are over. But in reality, each and every medal in Olympics is not just an individual moment of glory which the Chinese or Americans always manage to achieve. It is not something which can be achieved by just peaking at the right time. Each and every athlete undergoes years of rigorous trainings, puts in dedicated efforts, all the while following a strict diet, each moment staying determined and not losing focus on his ultimate goal - the medal. Winning the medal is just the culmination of all these- of all their hard work paying off, of finally getting recognition for their struggle. I am told, athletes in China are trained for months together without even getting a chance to meet their parents till they win a medal for the country. Such is the country's determination. No wonder then they are at the top of the table this year.

Phelps' story is no different. Form the tender age when he was diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder, he started training as a swimmer. He spent days and days in the swimming pool continuously preparing for that ultimate feat - achieving the unachievable! He went into 2000 Sydney Olympics as a teenager and started his quest to become the greatest Olympians of all times. He didn't have it easy. But he was not the one to give up. He believed in himself and never let go of his goal. Even in this Olympics, during one of the races, his goggles mal-functioned. Inspite of that, he swam away to glory breaking the world record!

Winning a gold medal is one thing that every athlete, every sports-person dreams of. It is the greatest sporting honour that could be bestowed upon you. Inspite of being the champion that he is, Roger Federer could only manage a doubles gold in tennis till now. And it is in this context that Phelps is outstanding. It seemed that he won a gold medal everyday. Today's newspaper carried reports of his seventh gold medal and by the time we could read it, he had already conquered eight! Today was the culmination of all his hard work. But it is certainly not the end. Great going Phelps! Great going all athletes! The dream world is at stake. It is yours to take!


Anantha said...


I may sound a bit skeptical in saying this. Though 8 golds in a single Olympics is a splendid achievement, I just wanna see how he fares in next Olympics... hope he is not a 'one Olympics wonder'..

Shashia said...

@Ananth anna
The very fact that he won six olypmic golds in Athens 2004 olympics proves that he is much more than "one olympics wonder".

Shelf-life for athletes is a cruel thing. Olympics does come only once in four years. By the time London 2012 happens, he will be 27 years, clearly past his prime. But I am sure he will definitely give it his best. Champions seldom fight with others. They fight with themselves rite?

Saravanan said...

Nice Article. :)

I was so happy seeing Abhinav winning the gold medal. It was as though I won the event. I was delighted to see it. The fact that Phelps won 8 gold medals made me happy. I was happy for him. Winning does matters and it is indeed a splendid achievement. Hats off to the "Fish Guy" (Kinda nice na, Fish Guy??)