Millions of Indians are now busy analyzing what went wrong for the Indian athletes at the ongoing Olympics. Many are buckling up to show their proximity with the Silver Girl Mirabai Chanu who indeed showed her masterclass by clinching the Silverware in the 49 KG Weightlifting. Soon she will be flooded with commercial endorsement offers. And many people will still be biting the fresh wounds from the numerous defeats conceded in the Olympics. Even though I am still hopeful that India will definitely bag some medals once the wrestling event starts and the likes of Sindhu, Kom or Borgohain are very much in the race to clinch medals, I still doubt if we can come up with a tally that will be respected by the world. Let’s not go into that. Rather, I will take solace from some of the inspiring stories we witnessed in this edition of the biggest sports event in the world. I will encourage my children from a couple of stories of those valiant individuals who took the road less traveled. And not very surprisingly both of them hail from Chennai, the land of courage, the land of being different and inspiring others.
Bhavani Devi and Nethra Kumanan, both are young, ambitious, and talented girls from Chennai. Both studied Engineering. But what beaded them the best way possible is that both of them took paths other will dare to travel. In India, it is not easy to pursue sports. Being a girl does not make the task easier. Even though your society relents to your determination to pursue sports, you are encouraged to go for more popular ones like Cricket, Badminton or even Tennis. The general notion is that if you want to be a sportsperson, be into that what gives you money, fame, and glamour and that too, quickly. Being a father of two, I feel so good whenever I think of the parents who had encouraged their daughters to go for sports like fencing or Sailing, games which the majority of Indians do not know exist. There lies the biggest success of Nethra Kumanan, the first-ever woman Sailor from India to qualify in the Olympics, and Bhavani Devi, the first Indian to participate and also win any game in Fencing in the Olympics. It was indeed shocking to see that Wikipedia still does not have a page in the name of Nethra Kumanan, showing how much ignorant we are about this lady or the sport she pursues. And when you do not know anything about the game, it is a luxury to believe that you will know that Nethra bagged the Bronze medal in the Sailing World Cup in Miami last year. Is not it interesting to know that Bhavani is sponsored by Go Sports Foundation under the Mentorship of none other than Rahul Dravid, the venerated Wall of Indian Cricket?
Being an avid follower of sports, I spent a lot of time understanding how the events Fencing or Laser Radial Class of Sailing are played. And that gave me real goosebumps. Two young girls have forced me to know the game they play, know how those games are played, and respect their decision to adopt these sports to surge ahead in life. When the nation was busy going elsewhere these young girls went against the tide and pursued something where earning fame was difficult, very difficult if not impossible in a nation like India already charmed under the spell of one sport. Bhavani has ended her campaign already. But the spirit she showcased was mesmerizing. An Indian female fencer winning the first game in the event on a stage like the Olympics. Isn’t that thought itself so much heartwarming? Even though the chances of Nethra winning a medal are bleak, seeing her performing on that stage was a sight of its kind! It is high time that we all encourage such individuals who took the path less traveled, respect their spirit, know about the sports they play and cheer for them whenever they represent the nation at any stage. Once they get the respect they deserve, success will become a formality. Thank you Bhavani and Nethra once again for showing us the way.