At Rio 2016, Sandeep Chaudhary had his own moment of catharsis. The javelin F44 was all but done and Sandeep knew he would finish no better than fourth, a reality that reduced him to tears.
In an interview long after the Rio disappointment, Sandeep said, “It’s hard to describe how I felt, I was lying on the track crying and nobody cared about me.”
Many an athlete would see fourth at the Olympics as ‘this is the limit for you, all your hard work and training can only take you so far.’ Not Sandeep. He just got better.
In 2018, he decimated the world record at the Para Asian Games in Jakarta and comfortably won his first major title. But not one to rest on his laurels, he decided his own world record needed improving and went ahead and added a massive five metres to it. Sandeep did not stop there; in the recently held World Para Athletics Grand Prix, Sandeep shattered the world record and has comfortably secured a berth for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
From bitter personal disappointment, Sandeep continues to spin a tale of resilience and triumph.
There’s an oft-repeated truism that sport mimics life in its truest sense. In life, do we not face obstacles more often than we’d like to and doesn’t overcoming those obstacles feel like battle scars worth talking about? Moreover, as people looking to leave behind our own stories of resilience and triumph, we take every chance to celebrate those among us who have braved personal losses and used them as stepping stones towards achievement and recognition.
In 2009, Gabrielle ‘Gabe’ Grunewald was still at the University of Minnesota’s running team. She wasn’t dominating the long-distance running circuit by any stretch of imagination but at only twenty-two, she could be forgiven for looking ahead. But, fate intervened. She had noticed a lump under her left eye and underwent tests. A few days later, she received a phone call where she was told she had adenoid cystic carcinoma – a rare form of cancer that doesn’t appreciate you looking too far ahead.
For almost anybody, that would be it. But Gabe did something else. She came to terms with her reality and a few days after her diagnosis, she ran a personal best. In short, she got better at running. Over the next ten years of her life, she won a national title, inspired countless others to run and also started the ‘Brave Like Gabe’ Foundation to help cancer survivors like herself.
The stress of performing at the elite level and staying fit to maximise the performance not only takes a toll on the athletes’ physical strength but also on his/ her mental ability. That’s when the trait of resilience becomes a necessary skill. Possessing that one skill can turn an athlete into a role-model. Their will to overcome obstacles and the ability to come out on top makes for an inspiring story.
What sets these athletes apart from others is their unstoppable attitude. A resilient person understands that they are the architect of their own joy and destiny.
Resilience in sport can turn into an excellent tool in order to successfully overcome life’s difficulties and issues. Sport is an excellent opportunity to extrapolate everything we can learn into our routine. We may think that sport only aids the health of our bodies, yet, the truth is that it can grant us many more important skills; like resilience, which give us common people, a chance to aspire and emulate these instances into our daily lives.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
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The CSR Journal Team