An honourable mention in the Pen-tathlon Article Writing Competition by Harith Lokugamage-University of Colombo
“Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records” is a famous quote which most sportsmen look up to at any stage in their sporting career. Be it any sport, outdoor, indoor, ball sports, aquatic sports or any other kind, there will always be a phase in a sportsman’s career where all the hard work and time invested might suddenly feel like, efforts gone to waste. At this point, resilience will be wrapped in hope but hope will come in pieces of a confusing puzzle. This is that phase of “adversity” which either breaks or makes a sportsman’s dream to reach greater heights.
I myself being actively engaged in competitive sports from my schooling days till now, as an undergraduate, I believe I’m able to share some of my personal experiences related to this topic of what it takes to “reach greater heights”. The meaning of this might be mistaken by some individuals who’d interpret it in a way which means “performing in an international level”. However, greater heights simply mean performing better in your area of expertise/ accomplishment through hard work and effort. For you, reaching greater heights could be running a 100-meter dash in less than 12 seconds, for some it might be winning a league championship and for some it can be a personal goal of being able to do 50 push ups in one go. Whatever it is, reaching greater heights is simply about continuous improvement.
Having been a ruggerite of Royal College Colombo 07, I must admit that getting an opportunity to play in the Bradby Shield encounter, famed as the “Blue Ribbon” of Schools Rugby, is the pinnacle of glory for any ruggerite from Royal/Trinity. An ardent fan of rugby might undoubtedly know how much attention this encounter draws from around the world. From the players’ point of view, it’s the pressure to perform. It’s the pressure to not make a mess of out of you, before a densely packed crowd. It’s the duty of not letting your teammates and your alma mater down. It’s all about being triumphant at the end of the day. All these pressure builders stock up on your shoulders, days before the game. If you manage to question any ruggerite in these respective schools about the match they cherish the most or the game they’d love to play one more time, the answer you are most certain to hear would be, “The Bradby encounter”. It’s merely not because the game attracts tremendous amounts of attention. Its beauty cascades from colossal effort a player puts in during the training weeks prior to the encounter. Its glory lies in the golden history behind the rivalry, united with the traditions and pride endowed within.
There is a choice to be made during this phase of growing pressure on your shoulders. You either fight the pressure, get hold of your nerves and keep moving forward, or you can backdown, let the pressure make the worst of you and bury you in a pit of challenges. To reach greater heights like I said at the start, you need to stick with the first choice. As the famous sporting legend Chandrishan Perera once said, “Pressure is privilege”. Thus, it can be understood that, to be exposed to such pressure is a blessing. The more you are exposed to such circumstances, the more your inner self is strengthened. Such is the feeling of pressure for it is a unique strength disguised as an obstacle.
“The extra effort” such as doing the extra ordinary among the ordinary could sometimes mean, staying away from your desires such as parties, fast food or late nights. This is what’s known as, “tunnel vision” you are only focused on your target and not what lies in between and discipline is key! While your pillars of effort make you reach greater heights, the foundation of discipline it stems from has to be strong. The core values of any professional athlete are – respect, sportsmanship, discipline, and integrity. NO distractions! Dodge them! Well, this is something every sportsman gets to hear and something they say to themselves to prevent diversions.
Last but not least, you must enjoy what you do. Be it a sport or your field of study, if you don’t enjoy what you do, you certainly won’t be able to reach greater heights because even if you, you wouldn’t feel it! So if you really want to reach greater heights and feel it for yourself, start enjoying the process! Then, you are halfway there. You need not be a professional athlete to reap the benefits of being a sportsman. Make sports a part of your day. Engage with enthusiasm. Participate with passion. Learn how your body works. Learn how your mind works. Learn how they work together! No one seems to be challenging you? Then challenge yourself! Set benchmarks! Have a grip on your focus like how a ruggerite darting towards the try line would do with the ball! Never ever give up because sometimes although you might feel like you hit rock bottom and fell to the ground that might be a goal scored! – The winning moment you had wanted, to take you to the greater heights you had been dreaming of!
Enjoy. Achieve. Repeat!
Don’t stop the grind.