Dare to dream

Dare to dream

Dare to dream

Athletic events have historically occupied special spaces in our societal consciousness.

From the Battle of Marathon during the first Persian invasion of Greece in 490 BC to Bheema-Jarasandha's wrestling duel in the mythological 'Mahabharatha', sports culture has sparked the imagination and revealed the potential of our human spirit.

Over the past century, sports personalities who have risen beyond discrimination and difficulty to bring glory to their nation and people have motivated youngsters to dream and persevere.

Icons such as Jim Thorpe (native American Olympian), Jesse Owens (track and field superstar), and Cathy Freeman (aboriginal 400m sprinter) have on the international stage shown us how to not only surge high but to climb from the depths.

Earlier this month, the world lost another awe-inspiring athlete.

Roger Bannister-- who at 25 became the first person to run a mile (1600 meters) in under 4 minutes-- passed away on March 3, 2018, in England.

A medical student from 1951-54, Bannister titrated his athletic training amidst assiduous medical education, managing only an hour of running a day during those pivotal years.

Significantly, Bannister's 1954 feat and its aftermath have been a source of inspiration for me; less for the athletic accomplishment itself and more for the capacity of the human essence demonstrated by what came afterwards.

Before Bannister broke the mark, experts claimed that it was 'humanly impossible' to run a mile in under 4 minutes.

Legends claim that for 'over a thousand years' aspirants attempted to break the 4-minute barrier in various ways, some even tying bulls behind them to take their potential to the max.

In Oxford, England, on May 6, 64 years ago, the barrier was finally broken.

What is more incredible, however, is that within two months of Bannister running the mile in 3.59.4
minutes, another runner John Landy achieved the same task nearly 2 seconds faster. Several more runners broke the 4-minute barrier in the following years. Today, it isn't uncommon for gifted teenagers to do the same.

In other words, what was deemed biologically unfathomable for aeons of recorded history has been accomplished thousands or more times in a half century.

Once Bannister did it, others realised they had the potential in them and could break the barrier as well.

What this teaches us is that if one believes something is possible, one can make it happen. And this applies beyond the athletic world into the humanitarian universe as well.

Personas who have transcended intolerance and prejudice to build a nation of non-violence, equality, and inclusively such as Savitribhai Phule, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, and EV Ramaswamy Periyar must not be relegated to statues in a park or portraits on a wall; for their spirits are within us all.

It's only when we internalise their understandings and cultivate their legacies through our actions that we are doing them and the world justice.

Because an ideal society is possible... But we must first be a 'good sport' and believe it so.

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