Friday, September 16, 2016

My thoughts on India's performance at Rio Olympics

I was elevated, excited and enthralled for the glory that Sakshi and Sindhu brought by winning their medals at Rio olympics. Like millions of Indian fans, i watched women’s badminton finals. Even though PV Sindhu lost the match to world no. 1, i liked the way she fought till the end. Her fighting spirit apart from the medal is appreciated by everyone.
I was proud that in a country where sports infrastructure is less and kids are encouraged to become engineers and doctors, these athletes are bringing medals for India. I got curious about Sindhu. I wanted to know How she got there? what training she got? what sacrifices she made? As i dug deeper, following is what i believe are the reasons for her success.
Purpose, Practice, Perseverance, and Progress
Purpose: Sindhu’s father was a national level basket ball player. Yet he allowed her to play badminton as she showed interest in badminton only. She started playing from the age of 8. Played her first tournament at the age of 10 and ever since, she has been playing the game. Sindhu identified her interest very early in her life and luckily she got support from her parents and focused all her time and energy on the game and it helped her significantly.
Practice: Malcum Gladwell, in his book OUTLIERS said, to master any skill, one needs to practice at least 10,000 hours. Sindhu trained in Pullela Gopi chand Badminton Academy. At some point, She used to travel 50 km to the academy and starts training at 4:30 am everyday. By the age of 21, Sindhu already played badminton for 13 years. Assuming she played about 3–4 hours a day, 300 days a year, she would have crossed 10,000 hours of practice. It gave her massive advantage in terms of acquiring the skill.
Perseverance: There was a time she exited early in national under 13 badminton games. Next day morning, she was at the academy practicing the game. Even in Rio finals , she was trailing in all 3 sets. But she constantly fought back and won first set, and nearly made it in the 3rd set. She had her share of failures. But it didn’t stop her from moving forward.
Progress: Many people spend time practicing the skill. But not all succeed. what makes the difference is the feedback one gets on their game. Having a coach who understands your strengths, identifies weakness and helps you grow, makes a lot of difference. Sindhu got a great coach in Pullela Gopi chand who had a track record of producing winners such as Saina Nehwal. Gopi Chand has played a major role in her winning Olympic silver medal at Rio.
I would like to mention my favourite quote of will smith on talent and skill. “Talent is what you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours of beating on your craft.” It takes having clear purpose, then keep practicing to improve one’s skill, persevere through tough times and progress till you reach your goal.
India may not have fared well at Rio olympics. However, we need winners such as PV Sindhu and Sakshi to inspire next generation of sporting talent so that India can get better results in future sporting events.