28 August 2012

Only the strong

For sportsmen, the urge to win and be the best is probably among the loudest voices in our heads. It’s very hard to ignore this voice, and it’s what drives us to wake up earlier than anyone else, to train harder than anyone else, to push our bodies beyond its limit, to eat food which our tongue disagrees with, and all of it just to gain that extra edge over our competitors.

But sometimes, it doesn’t go our way. We are beaten, sometimes robbed of our victory by an element beyond our control, but that’s just the way things are. You have to first accept that and then move on and minimize the chances of it occurring again, and that’s where the hours of training comes in.

Datuk Lee Chong Wei really inspired me in the Olympics badminton finals. He displayed a heroic fight, and though things didn’t work out in his favour, he will forever be hailed as among the best because of the true grit and integrity he displayed. And though he shed a tear after the match, he was consoled by his closest rival, and there’s no better show of sportsmanship than that.

Racing is full of ‘nearly won’s’ as well, but when it comes down to showing that it takes nothing but determination to produce a win, there’s only one picture that comes to my mind, Ayrton Senna’s win in Brazil back in 1991. Though he had two world championships already under his belt, Senna had never won in Brazil. So it was a man and nation’s dream for him to win there, and it seemed like he would, until a problem with the gearbox spelt disaster.

He only had sixth gear throughout the race but still won, and that’s an incredible feat by itself. He pushed his body, he pushed the limits of the car, he stayed in front of the pack, and he ultimately took first place. But his body was so physically spent that he couldn’t move, he had to be helped out of the car, yet even then, he found some energy to make it up to the podium, and then, in a dazzling display of patriotism, he found some energy to lift his trophy and share his win with his country. If you haven’t watched the video of that moment, there’s a link below, it’s incredibly motivating.

When it comes down to races, I am always looking for ways to stay motivated. I mentioned in my previous column that I spend every minute of mine training, exercising and just living a healthier lifestyle, and that’s just to have the extra edge over my fellow race drivers. Racing in Europe is very difficult; the standard of racing here is unparalleled anywhere in the world and if you slack off for even a day, or succumb to pressure to have that one extra burger, it could be disastrous.

Racing at this level is about milliseconds, and that means you don’t only have to be physically fit, but mentally as well. It’s not been an easy journey for me to be where I am today, I haven’t only had to fight to be the best, but I also had to deal with being knocked out of a race when I was so close to the chequered flag. It’s been a crazy few years for me, but I am hungry for more. I’m still not satisfied with what I have, and I feel like I have a lot more in me to take the fight to the highest level of racing, and I will not stop until I get there.

After all, success has never been a destination, it’s a journey, and only the fittest and well prepared can take on that hard, long walk.

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