Being a sportsperson has taught me a lot.
But the most important thing I want to tell you and every other young athlete is that never stop enjoying your game. The minute you do, there will be no sense to you playing anymore. As long as you keep having fun, as long as you play because you’re passionate about it, you will never tire out. Your work and your practice will not overburden you. You will be able to be your best wherever you go.
Times are changing for Indian sports. Make the most out of it. Back in my days, we never imagined India would win a medal in Table Tennis against the top Asian countries. Now, we have risen beyond that cliche to bag two. Add to that, you and Saina have broken the drought in Singles Badminton as well. 1982 was a long time ago. India has waited too long for another Singles medal; we have waited too long for that medal to come from a woman. And you two have done it.
What you have also done, dear daughter is made your next generation take notice of you. As a sportsperson, I can tell you that it is essential to have that inspiration, in the form of a medal, to encourage a sport and ensure that its legacy continues long after you have ceased to be a part of it.
You play for your country- not just to win a medal for your land but also to inspire.
Remember that always. Acknowledge and respect the expectations that people have from you but do not let it consume you. Through it all, remember that excellence is your target. Let nothing come in the way of that.
Back in my days, there were a few athletes. They were the only ones who stood out. There was PT Usha; there was Shiny Wilson, Charles Borromeo and of course the teams like Hockey and Volleyball. Everyone knew we would win something- we had made a reputation for ourselves, and there was no plausible scenario where we would be returning home from a major tournament empty-handed. That the paradigm has shifted enough for every athlete to be considered a medal prospect today is a massive transformation. There is a new dawn in Indian sports, an improvement.
This is an era that has long been coming for a country like India where talent is limitless. You are at the centre of this change. Cherish it. Learn as much as you can and never stop learning.
Remember, you are who you are because of your coaches, your family and the people of your country. In your moment of glory do not forget about the people who have patiently guided you so far.
Facilities have improved. The athlete is now at the centre of every plan that is made when it comes to Indian sports. People are paying attention to you, and you are doing great justice to the focus that you are being given
Make your game the hero. Let the rest of the country know that its okay to play without thinking about winning medals. Encourage them just to play. Motivate them to participate. A Saina or a Sindhu cannot be made in a day. You cannot just decide to start winning medals. There is a lengthy procedure of preparation that comes along with it, and none of it will be possible if a culture of playing sports is not encouraged first.
Your sport has given you a lot. Never forsake it. Keep giving back to it everything you have received.
Challenge yourself. Keep an open mind. Remember that results are not always under your control. Your only job is to give your best. That way, you will have zero regrets as you blaze through life
You have achieved a lot, that is true. But always remember that prospects are limitless today. Remember that you still have miles to go.