Sunday, May 28, 2017

Playing to Win - Saina Nehwal

I read this slim 100 page book that gave a quick account of Saina Nehwal and her growth as an athlete. A peek into her childhood at Hissar, her agri scientist father and a sportswoman for mother, a secure, township-based childhood makes one long for those nice government jobs that give that illusion of stability. She'd play all games then including cricket if I remember right, and another thing I remember is her fancy dress competition clothes.
Penguin, 144 p, Rs. 199
Then the move to Hyderabad (then of course Rajendra Nagar was so out of the way, almost ten kms away from the city centre) and her father taking her to Lal Bahadur stadium and getting her enrolled in the shuttle classes at the stadium. Her smash in that extra time selections that her father (mother?) fought for and got her an entry into the classes. The early morning auto rides after waking at 430, practice till 630, head home, go to school, study till 230, Mom taking her to stadium at 330 for practice all paid off. The contribution of her sportswoman mom who sowed the importance of winning and her process-oriented father seeded her with the best of both - process and outcome.

Winning junior tournaments, her gradual rise into the big league, achievements and awards, endorsements and the financial comfort. A peek into her father's withdrawal from his PF fund to finance her early days is touching. And then  it all seems worth it when she says I am now comfortable with two houses in Hyderabad and one in Haryana. As with all top sportspeople she grappled with injuries and persisted. A human touch when she had to travel alone for a tournament and her shyness at dealing with the immigration people.

After every chapter she gives some insights - on her routine, her food, her advise to people who want to enrol their kids into shuttle classes. Pretty simple. But there was one biography written by T.S. Sudhir of NDTV - wonder why there are two bios? Anyway nothing much here that one may not find otherwise. That question again - why the hurry to write bios, to make bio pics?

As with all other bios of sportspeople I have read recently the stand out points are - supportive parents and teachers and educational institutions, good coaches and mentors, dedicated routines, nutrition and fitness regimes and a growth mindset, on the way up. Once there, injury time, media disillusionment, ads and endorsements and the biggest killer of them all, the insecurity. And then for a lifetime of work, the fame is fleeting. 

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