The Road to Hundred Medals

As the Indian contingent in the Asian Games hauls hundred medals for the first time in history, we look at some lessons this journey can teach us.

The Indian contingent at the Asian Games 2023 has hauled hundred medals for the first time! With the gold in women’s kabbadi, the medal count reached the grand hundred (and still counting!).

The victories come with lessons in attitude, discipline, sportsmanship and never giving up.

Getting up after the fall:

Sport is unpredictable, and it treats everyone equally: it doesn’t matter how experienced or inexperienced you are, the rules apply equally to everyone, everyone can make mistakes, everyone can reverse the mistakes and everyone is out there in the open to give their best. There was a point in the nail-biting final match between India and Chinese Taipei when an Indian player slipped and gave the opponents a two-point lead. But India bounced back and made history. The Indian player who slipped, and the team could have just thrown the towel and decided that it’s out of their hands now. They could have blamed each other and cried foul at the opponents.

 But their ‘antifragile’ attitude- learning from mistakes and using those to their advantage- made all the difference.

You will make mistakes, sometimes huge ones. You might fall, you might get knocked down in spite of all the preparation, experience and wisdom but the attitude lies in getting up after the fall.

Never Stop Playing:

Playing when the whole world is watching you can be daunting- every mistake you make is out there for everyone to see (and replay!). On the other end is the fact that you could give your best for years and still not get the credit due to you.

As the team gets its due recognition now, it is to be noted that this hasn’t always been the case. The women’s kabbadi team is a giant in the sport- in the previous editions of the games, it has consistently won medals, gold included, and yet most players remain unknown. A google search for them yields very few results as compared to many players of more ‘glamourous’ sports, or even male players of many other sports.

But does this lack of due recognition lead the team to stop playing? The Indian kabbadi captain Ritu Negi continues to lead the team. Pushpa Rani continues to be the all-rounder that she is. Pooja Hathwala continues to be a great raider.

The system might work against you, but as long as you know your worth, and continue to put up a fight, sooner or later, recognition will come. There might be a mellow show, or the show might not even be planned, but you must go on.

Nothing is Impossible:

A time-traveller might go back in time by a decade or two, and if they were to ask any random Indian if they think it is possible that India will ever win a hundred medals, the stranger might just laugh it off as impossible. Or they might say that if the events are just going to be of cricket, then yes, there was a possibility. Thinking about this three-digit medal haul was considered unrealistic at one point in very recent history.

Something that was deemed impossible and unrealistic has now been achieved thanks to an effort at the level of the collective- right from all the athletes of all the sports, to the system, to the administration and to the people for continuing to cheer the little wins. And how to forget the individual effort of the athletes? The individual athletes continued their ‘karma’, giving their best in whatever way possible. As the little wins over the years cumulated, the people and the system looked up and started to envision the possibilities.

Things might seem impossible, unrealistic and just unachievable. But does that mean we give up hope? Does that mean we should stop working towards anything worthwhile? Be it sports, or life outside of sports in the office, working on things that are under our control is always an option rather than to give up.

As our athletes at Hangzhou continue to give their best, and make dreams of billion come true with their hard work, we congratulate them on how far they have come. We thank them for teaching us lessons about determination, dreams and having confidence in competence.