A peek into the champs' minds

A peek into the champs' minds

The maddening pursuit of international glory often tends to overshadow the unprecedented struggles of top international athletes.

My Olympic Journey, which was launched amidst a star-spangled audience on Tuesday, is an attempt towards chronicling stories from the point of view of sportspersons.

A collection of stories of 50 Indian Olympians, penned by sports journalist Digvijay Singh Deo and visual strategy consultant Amit Bose, it's launch provided a peek into the unknown facets of famous Indian sportspersons. Among those present included Olympic medallists K Malleswari, Gagan Narang, Khel Ratna Awardees Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Ronjan Sodhi, BCCI Treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry, members of the Indian Olympic Association and sportspersons from different disciplines.

Hockey legend Balbir Singh, who led India to gold medal in the 1956 Games, fondly recalled the unforgettable moment before reasserting that the medal goes to the country and not individuals.

"People come and go, but they leave the medal forever in the name of country," recalled Balbir as a black and white picture of him standing on the podium with gold medal during the 1956 Olympics, flashed on the screen.

A picture of young Gurbachan Singh Randhawa with legendary athlete Jesse Owens during the 1960 Games further deepened the nostalgia. "It was great honour for me, a matter of pride to be with Jesse Owens," reminisced Randhawa.

Malleswari confessed the incurable pain of losing out on gold medal in the 2000 Olympics, where she had to settle for bronze, but takes solace from the fact that she could inspire a host of women athletes to follow her path to Olympic glory.

"It still hurts me because I feel I could have easily won the gold. That apart, we also enjoyed a lot. The entire contingent celebrated as if they had won the medal," she smiled.

"I hope women athletes win most medals in Rio and hopefully gold medals."

Rifle shooter Gagan Narang still stiffens up while speaking about the heartbreak of missing a medal in Beijing Games. "Honestly winning the bronze in London Olympics lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. I remembered how it (not winning the medal) had affected my parents. They are my support system and if that breaks, it becomes really tough."

The improved performance by India in the Olympics was attributed by the senior Olympians on the shift of attitude. "They now want to win medal, not just participate. The professional aspect has taken over the emotional aspect. They have broken the mental barrier. Today they demand what they need, rather than put up with what they are given," said hockey Olympian Jagbir Singh.

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