Dangal – an eye opener

I watched Dangal yesterday.

As you might know if you happen to visit this blog often, I have taken up shooting professionally in 2016. Seeing the Phogat sisters slog at 5 AM in the morning, I was considerably moved. This is what hard work looks like.

When Geeta Phogat went on thrashing one after another contender in the National Championships – with no other worthy challenger, my mind went back to the National Shooting Championship Competitions (NSCC) that I had just been a part of. There was a vast difference between entry-level athletes, regular athletes and the world class athletes.

Was the difference only in skill? No. The primary difference is ‘how seriously do you take your sport?’

The difference is truly revealed when a National level Champion moves to the International circles. It’s like climbing the highest local peak (in a plateau area) and immediately having to climb Mount Everest in all its harshest climatic glory without any necessary training. It is a rude shock – for those who let their focus slip after becoming a known name in the Nationals.

Every scene in the movie, coupled with the memory of every shot I took at the NSCC has given me a much needed rude awakening. Let’s face it – shooting 40-60 pellets a day after some limbering exercises, feigned meditation and 30 mins of holding doesn’t a world class shooter make.

Geeta and Babita’s Dad quit his job to devote his 100% to coaching them. I have quit my job to devote my 100% to becoming a good shooter. Not having a working day creates an illusion of having ample time on your hands. You do every little household chore that you think needs to be done, you make time to accommodate almost all requests of friends and family, and with the time that remains – you make hay while the sun shines – you goof off! (Reading every other ’10 things…’ article, scanning FB feeds with no agenda in mind, etc. I can think of a million things that I don’t want to or shouldn’t do and I am doing.)

I need to become ‘hanikarak’ for myself and start working towards the goal that I have set for myself. It ain’t easy, but it ain’t hard too. I was one of the ‘mediocre’ athletes in NSCC (who are labelled aspiring along with all the real aspiring deals out there. I might add, there are even ‘renowned shots’ who are mediocre, but let’s not get into that.)

Abhinav Bindra laments the increasing number of wildcards, which render the NSCC less reputable, and make it tough for the seasoned athletes to concentrate on their game. I might not completely agree, but I get where he’s coming from. If there is no serious competition, it can be disheartening for the International-level athletes to compete with little or no serious competition. (Then there is also the lack of glamour that they deserve at the medal distribution. There is hardly any crowd to see and snap them at the podium, but I digress.) The bottomline is most Indians – players, coaches, sports officials and bystanders alike – take our sports too lightly.

I had gone easy on myself since I knew I got into the Nationals. I just wanted the ‘feel’ of the games. There’s nothing wrong in it, but going easy should not mean not living up to your everyday potential. The week before the Nationals, we had a family event, and I kinda ignored my training. Probably I would not have, if I were younger, and did not have any other responsibilities. Is this true? I ask myself, and the answer is a resounding NO.

I have always found a way to not give enough and justify it. At times it is the lack of guidance, lack of confidence, lack of energy, lack of time and above all – the unwarranted sense of contentment that I use as blinds to stop the reality glaring me in the eyes. The reality is – I ain’t doing enough!

I need to take a leaf out of Dangal, and start prepping with a willing heart. My eyes have been opened. Let’s do this!