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Random forays: Raising a toast to the real heroes

India’s performance at the Jakarta Asian Games has certainly uplifted everybody’s mood and inspired youngsters across the country.

punjab Updated: Sep 02, 2018 09:51 IST
Vivek Atray
Vivek Atray
Hindustan Times
Random forays,Sport,Asian Games
Tejinder Pal Singh Toor celebrates after winning a gold medal in shot put at Asian Games in Jakarta on August 25.(PTI)

Sport is a great uplifter. Such is its beauty that those who had never heard of javelins celebrated the success of Asian Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra…those who couldn’t spell ‘heptathlon’ gushed over Swapna Burman’s tour de force to bag an unlikely gold, and couch potatoes marvelled at Manjit Singh’s amazing surge to the finish line during the 800m race.

India’s performance at the Jakarta Asian Games has certainly uplifted everybody’s mood and inspired youngsters across the country.

Tejinder Pal Toor’s father is battling cancer, and yet he found the gumption and the poise to propel the shot-put to a distance that opened India’s gold medal account.

None of these is a namby-pamby, spoon-fed youngster, who was born with a silver spoon. Almost all the medallists have a story to tell — of pain, rejection and even ridicule that they faced in their journeys, to reach where they have. Ours is not a society which promotes sporting endeavour and more often than not looks down upon it. What is it that propels some youngsters with challenging backgrounds and difficult childhoods to scale the heights of a podium finish at such international events?

These are individuals with that bit of extra energy, passion, spirit, and that inner voice, which tells them to never give up. These are not people who feel disheartened at major or minor reverses. They are the ones who stick to their guns and bounce back each time.

MS Dhoni is a prime example of the spirit of ‘never say never’. Coming from the humblest of backgrounds and rising to the pinnacle of world cricket as India’s most successful skipper, Dhoni’s story is an astonishing saga of innate strength and magnificent ability. Even that constable who rises to the post of police inspector and is able hold his/her own while those around keep succumbing to all kinds of lures, deserves to be lauded. This person, too, is a hero unmatched in the ability to hold its head high when others are unable to.

One can find several similar examples in the Indian Army of personnel who gave their lives for the nation despite being sole bread winners of their families. And there are thousands of nurses in our overburdened medical system who know no fatigue and save multiple lives by working tirelessly for decades. These are the real heroes — those who had to struggle to simply survive, but who rose from the ashes to conquer heights of excellence, achievement and sacrifice.

When an impoverished young ‘wannabe’ cricketer sits by the boundary, watching a local cricket match being played by more fortunate teammates, his/her dreams know no bounds, but the path to glory is dotted with formidable roadblocks. A beggar’s child also dreams of a comfortable existence as he has not chosen the life he leads. He seeks to study, play, chart its own course in life, but most often, that is not the case. Thus, all the more, our society needs to encourage, highlight and celebrate the lives of those who have broken through seemingly insurmountable barriers and made it big, or even a little bit big, by sheer dint of courage and character.

These real heroes are present somewhere around us — unnoticed at most times. We need to search for them, applaud and encourage them to continue to shine bright on this earth, whose denizens are lucky to have them around. Even by doing a little bit extra for the society or by simply doing their duty diligently, thousands of common Indians across the nation are worthy of recognition.

On the other hand, sportspersons can invigorate entire nations by their astounding feats of glory. Thus when a Manjit Singh or Swapna Burman stand atop the podium as the Tricolor soars high and the national anthem resounds in our ears, let us take a moment to reflect on the years of toil and torment that these true heroes have put up with to be where they are.

(The writer can be contacted at vivek.atray@gmail.com)

First Published: Sep 02, 2018 09:51 IST