30 Jun 2019

#379 Learn to lose gracefully

Learn to lose gracefully
Today, I got a golden opportunity to attend a talk (on the occasion of 52nd Convocation of IIT Kanpur) of one of the eminent personalities in the arena of sports, Pullela Gopichand, a former badminton player, coach of Indian Badminton team and recipient of many prestigious awards of India such as Arjun Award, Dronacharya Award and Padma Bhushan. He was accompanied by his wife PVV Lakshmi who is also a former renowned badminton player and has bagged the National Badminton championship title 8th times. To train the future generation badminton, he opened an academy named Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA) with the support of his wife and mother.  He has mentored many great players like P.V Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap, Sai Praneeth. It was an honor to hear the journey of their life from both of them.

Pullela Gopichand started his talk by emphasizing the importance of sports in his life. Sports has always helped him to shape his life in a better way. He was born in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. Like other Indian families, his parents wanted him to pursue his career either in engineering or medical.  So, after completion of his board examination, he took up science stream. But, this stream had never fascinated him as much as his love for badminton. He used to get up early in the morning, study for about one and a half hour and then go to the badminton court for practice. His elder brother, a student of IIT Madras, had already raised the bar of academics and leveled up the expectation for him. Finally, he chose badminton as a career, which later proved to be a wise decision taken at that time.

His Career took a halt when he got leg injuries. It was a phase when everything seemed dark. According to Paulo Coelho, “And, when you want something, all universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Sometimes, the opportunity arrives when every door is closed. Miracles do happen when one is at the verge of losing himself.  He did not give up on his aim. He wanted to always reveal the recipe of his success to the newcomers so that they don’t have to struggle initially. If he could win at the age of 27, kids of India would win at early ages. That only requires proper training and encouragement to take up badminton as a career. This is what a real coach thinks. He had the vision to see the younger generation at the summit.  A coach is someone who can extract the potential of his students and let him realize his dream. In the entire process of coaching, he acts like a GURU who takes care of every aspect of his students not limited to physical well being. He shared one of the incidences with the audience of IITK. While giving training to one of the students, he was asked a simple question that made him contemplate for long. A thirteen-year-old girl, while unable to catch the shuttle flying in the air, asked him politely, “Sir, can you teach me how to catch?” This had shaken his mind. He was amazed by the relevance of the question.

He encouraged the audience to practice any sports daily. A game has been an integral part of his life. The day he has started playing, it’s been in his routine to continue for years without missing a single day. It not only makes one body flexible but also relaxes the mind. In this competitive world, people are so much concerned about winning. They are not able to bear the effect of loss. But, sports helps one learn to lose gracefully. It prepares one to leap, getting defeated multiple times. It builds up an emotional strength. It advertises failure to the world which develops confidence in players. After dealing with all such failure, players try to hold themselves up and rise like a phoenix out of ashes. Sports also exaggerate the ability to analyze an opponent’s action in advance. It provides different dimensions to deal with the tribulations of life.

In the end, one question was raised from the audience, which was directed to PVV Lakshmi. The question was based on how she handled both her personal and professional life. She answered it quite well. She managed both the spheres of her life because of the support of her in-laws and her husband, of course.She had been a pillar of support for Pullela Gopichand. The bond they share will always remain an inspiration for many. 


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