I love Gurgaon: We celebrate, emulate sporting excellence
I LOVE GURGAON’S SPORTING CULTURE: In the city of Olympians Deepa Malik and Shivani Kataria reside many sports enthusiasts bound by their passion for physical fitness and the spirit of competitionI Love Gurgaon Updated: Jun 05, 2017 09:56 IST
There are a lot of reasons that can make the bond between an individual and a city strong, and for me, the tie that binds me to Gurgaon is sport.
Gurgaon is a place that offers myriad opportunities to an individual — be it an activist or entrepreneur, film maker or endurance runner, singer or traveller, builder or nature lover. There is scope for everyone to grow.
The love for sport has brought a large number of Gurgaon residents together in well-knit groups. They run, cycle, train, exercise, golf, aspire and achieve.
This city is all about its people and the company they keep. Raahgiri or similar running and sporting events are an example of the evolving sporting culture of Gurgaon that sees people come out of their homes to enjoy outdoor activities.
Sport, however, is still a primary recreational activity here. It goes beyond hitting the lush green golf courses that are mostly used by corporate executives, actors and businessmen.
The trend started changing somewhere in 2011 when the people realised the potential of sport and the need for physical exercise to keep their bodies energised through the excruciating grind of corporate life.
In 2016, the scenario changed when teenager Shivani Kataria made it to the Olympics in swimming, para athlete Deepa Malik bagged the silver and local lad Anup Kumar led Indian team to the third kabaddi world title.
Gurgaon is now emerging as a hub of mixed sports activities. From kabaddi to international swimming, wrestling to golf, the city is hosting a number of sports events. It is perhaps this emerging trend that has forced top golfers and cricketers to make Gurgaon their home.
My association with Gurgaon goes back 10 years. In 2007, I first visited Gurgaon and in 2011, I thought of leaving the ‘Millennium City’ after living there for almost four years. It was at that moment that sports emerged as a peg on which I could base my life.
A few people encouraged me to run and my passion for endurance sports started growing. People in Gurgaon provided me the support to explore what I loved the most — physical activity — something that was missing in my life for four years. From there I started meeting new people, exploring the city, visiting different villages in and around Gurgaon. We started exploring different roads and trails.
To our surprise, we came across lots of places to run in the middle of green farms. We got to see the Aravallis and explore trails around this growing city. Gurgaon finally started weaving its spell on me.
This city teaches an individual to be bold, courageous, passionate and patient in achieving their dreams. This land of Guru Dronacharya also teaches individuals to take risks. The city is versatile and vibrant because it allows out-of-the-box thinking, provides choices that helps one fulfil their passions.
Runners, cyclists, triathletes did not find many avenues to train in Gurgaon. In the case of swimming, too, the pools were there but they were not managed properly.
Gurgaon is not a sports city but there is no dearth of people who have developed a culture of running, cycling and various sporting activities.
Gurgaon does not seem to have the best roads to cycle, but if people are ready to explore, they will find new locations that suit them.
All the training for my first Ironman triathlon happened in Gurgaon. We are a city where the people are responsive and come forward to resolve issues. If Gurgaon lacks in terms of road safety or in places where people can walk or cycle, then we all are responsible for that, and not just the developers and civic bodies.
A change in behaviour and attitude is needed along with a change in infrastructure. But we are getting there. A healthy, active and sustainable city is the result of proactive citizens, government bodies and private entities. In Gurgaon, these are slowly coming together.