When I was a kid, I use to hear this sentence in the closing ceremony of all the table tennis tournaments I took part in -“kids, winning and loosing does not matter, what matters the most is participation, and that's why lets give a round of applause to ourselves and feel proud that we made this tournament a huge success”. I could never comprehend this and it seemed nonsensical to me. In sport we all have had our wins and losses. And when the chief guest emphasized in his no-so-interesting speech that it was participation that mattered the most, I always mocked at him. I complained, sorry Mr. Chief Guest but I lost, I worked so hard for this, yet, I lost. Do you have any clue how it feels? It’s is a game the universe is playing with me, this cannot happen. I left no stone unturned, yet I lost. I haven’t even caused harm to anyone that karma is playing its part, then why me?? God, why me??? And on top of this, the gentleman wants to console me by saying that its participation that matters the most!!! Nothing can be more ridiculous than this!
I was innocent, immature and ignorant.
Its been almost 15 years that I have been playing table tennis actively, and when I patiently try to ponder, that what is the most important thing that sport has taught me, pat comes the reply, perseverance.
And that's when I understood, the chief guest was right, what matters the most is participation!!!!
In sport, the winner takes it all. By all I mean- the cash award, the medals, the trophies, the smiles, the happiness, the applause, the interviews, the newspaper headlines and the celebration. But, have you ever thought, what happens to the one who lost in the quarter finals, or the pre quarter finals? Or maybe the one who lost in the 1st round? Or the one who never qualified for the main draw? He feels lost and deeply shattered. But still, he chooses to go on. It’s his will to fight that keeps him going on. It’s the will to prepare for the next one, work harder than ever before, and the determination to knock each and every player down on his way to the podium in the next tournament. Yes, and that's why I say, what matters the most is perseverance.
Imagine, if we all said that no, I don’t want to do this anymore. There would be nobody to compete with. And competition is healthy. If we said, that I m not good at this, I cant do this anymore, there wouldn't be anyone to do sport which teaches us so many things. And sport imitates life. And that’s why I believe, that the chief guest was right. Winning and losing are just a part of this game and at the end what matters the most is that you participated.
In the year 2011 disappointed me, I didn't win a single match. I didn't go past the pre quarters. I played the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but in 2012, I was nowhere near it. My ranking slipped to no.17th in the country. I felt betrayed by hard work. As I kept analyzing what was going wrong, I was being pulled down by a number of people who kept telling me- guess its time to call it a day, looks like you don’t have it in you anymore, or maybe its just a signal that now you must focus on other things, or maybe, get married!!! To those who tried to pull me down- I forgive you. You were ignorant. I made a comeback in the national team in 2013. Yes, I did it. Although the journey was not smooth, I sacrificed a lot for that comeback, but I did it. And that's when I realized, that yes, the chief guest was right. I kept going on, worked harder than ever, and never lost the will. Perseverance was what kept me going on.
I am talking about myself because that's what I can best describe and feel proud of. I m sure, each one of you reading this, must have faced a similar situation in your respective careers as well. That's why, take a moment aside, and pat your back. Feel proud of yourself that you kept going. Take pride for the fact that you still refuse to give up. Look in the mirror and tell yourself, I m proud of you and I love you. Admire your perseverance. Forgive the ones who asked you to quit. It does not matter if you are number 1 or number 295, if you got up each time you were knocked down, feel proud.
Thank you Mr. Chief Guest, you were right. A lesson well learnt.