Hot and incredibly fit bodies glistening with beads of perspiration, fluid movements make you believe as though they are flying and you are witnessing the Greek Gods at play, descended from the skies solely for your viewing pleasure. They glide seamlessly, as though taking flight to touch the heavens transporting you to another world as you watch mesmerised. You pinch yourself, I know I asked the person sitting next to me to do so, to convince yourself that this is a reality, as you watch legends, past, present and future play at the recently concluded IPTL 2014 (2014 International Premier Tennis League).
I was transfixed by ‘Scud’, Mark Philippoussis, he of the 195 km/hr serve, battles it out with countryman Patrick ‘Pat’ Rafter. Watching Sania Mirza play doubles with the Swiss God Federer, was probably not only her dream but felt like the collective dream of a billion tennis fans. The crowd’s darling Novak, ‘zero fat’ Djokovic, gave us a taste of his prowess on court and his ability to touch the hearts of fans off court. Of course, the match made in heaven really was the nail biting Federeder and Djoko singles which almost gave a heart attack to the fans with its nail biting finish. This got me thinking – what is it about sportsmen (and women) that gets your head in a tizzy and makes you time and again realise that they are a class apart?
Of course, to begin with their fitness levels are a perfect ten, which is not for looking good but really it is their tool of the trade. This level of fitness requires discipline of ginormous proportions. Djoko, the zero fat wonder, (as I told him when I met him (thanks to Musafir .com - love you guys) wants to make you relook at every piece of junk that is going in your body and every minute you are wasting not exercising. We make so many pledges to ourself about weight loss and especially, the top New Year resolution for half the world population is ‘lose weight’ but when comes the time for effort, two days of sweating it out and it’s bye-bye to the diet and the gym. These supermen (and women) do it on and on, 365 days a year, for many years and believe me it’s not the pumped up steroids its real muscle.
It’s not just their body but even their mind that has to be clear of all negativities. After all, it’s also a mind game out there on the court especially when the contest is close as we witnessed in Fed and Djoko’s game. So many times on court we see the players goading themselves into action despite an injury or any other setback and it’s amply evident that in this psychological warfare, sometimes even with their own mind, there is no space for negativity. Whew! What discipline, because controlling the mind is the closest to nirvana. Then, the mind and body combine to perform at their top most level despite the crowds, the cheering and sometimes even the booing.
Most importantly they continue to be friends even with those they are pitted against whilst playing, like Rafa and Federer are said to be good friends and whatever the outcome of the game they always congratulate their adversary-on court and never gloat. Ah, the lessons on humility we could all learn!
Perhaps their humility extends to their fans when even despite a gruelling match they don’t rejects fans ‘request even at 2 am at night for pictures, I’m guilty of asking Scud, Moya, Wozniacki and Goran for pictures at that late hour and they happily obliged.
So combine all these, blend them, and lo and behold, you get a great sportsman. If only we could learn from them our lives would be so much better. Well, I’m going to take the easy way out and ask God, “Please, please, please, make me a sportsman in my next life!”
Author: Vandana Shah