Taking up the field of sports in India can be challenging. Luckily for me, almost my entire family is made up of sportspersons.
My Father is a national level archer.
It is because of him that me, my brother, and my sister; all three of us got motivated to start archery. My brother and sister were the first to join the field. I, on the other hand, was initially more drawn towards Basketball. However, seeing them take up archery, even I developed an interest in the sport.
I was in ninth standard when I took up the bow and arrow. It wasn’t easy at first. I had to alter my dexterity. Both my siblings were right-handed, and I had to adjust to a right-hand bow as well. Plus, I had to switch my master eye to the right, as initially all three of us were shooting from the same equipment.
What made training better for me was that I was doing it with my family.
It is always tremendous support having your family behind you all the time. It made me better also. My father, who is also my coach, has seen me grow up.
He knows what I am good at. He knows my strengths and weaknesses, and he has helped me work on that. Plus I believe that you can share everything with your family, even certain things that one would not want to share with a coach.
I owe a lot to my father. From the very beginning, he has put me in one sport or another. He always said that at the end of the day, “even if you don’t become a sportsperson, I just want you to be healthy and happy.” That has always been a big relief for my siblings and me.
It took a lot of pressure off our heads. We knew that even if we did not do well, it would be okay. As a result, practising without pressure to perform only made us better.
Patience is a Virtue
However, everything doesn’t always go your way. For me, there were some trying times also.
Perhaps the most challenging period was my first few years with the sport. All of us trained together in the beginning, me, my brother, and my sister. Both of them were great at Archery. They were finishing competitions at the top of the charts, winning Gold medals. I, on the other hand, was not being able to break that ceiling.
Seeing my brother and sister perform so well made me doubt myself a few times. I was very happy for them apparently, but there was this lingering question in my mind- Why am I not able to perform?
I used to ask my father the same question. I didn’t see myself doing anything differently than my siblings. We were practising together, we were following the same routine, but somehow I was getting left behind.
Nevertheless, I have come to realise that good things take time.
My chance finally came when I got selected for the national camp. I had finished in the top eight, along with my sister in the trials. So I went to the camp in Sonipat, and I started practising even harder. I drilled so much that my muscles tensed and I sustained an injury in my shoulder!
At this point, my morale was not at its highest. Even though I had gotten physiotherapy, my injury was troubling me.
Finally, my first big break came when I shot my way into a World Cup 3 spot. The event was supposed to take place in Turkey. Leading up to my selection, I didn’t enjoy the best of times. However, getting selected motivated me a lot.
It made me realise the importance of patience in sports. I understood that everyone has their own time. You have to train, you have to work hard, but you also need to be patient.
I used to compare myself to others as well. When you compare yourself to others, you tend to lose confidence. You start doubting yourself and start thinking that maybe I am not good enough. In this case, as I said earlier, it is essential to be patient. Everyone gets their own time to shine.
Things are different now. I have finally reached a level where I am confident in my abilities. I have gone to International competitions where I have won medals as well.
However, I still give the most preference for improving my skills and my temperament.
For a young sportsperson, I think getting medals is a big temptation. However, to be honest, consistent growth and consistent improvement will automatically provide you with a consistent medal flow.
In fact, the best thing a sportsperson of any given age can do is to keep on learning. Disaster always strikes when you think you’ve nothing more to gain. The moment you tell yourself that I know everything, you won’t have any growth. And growth is perhaps the most important thing in sports.
There is always something more you can do. Till the time you are keen to learn, eager to do more; that’s how you develop as a sportsperson.
Juggling multiple things is something that every young sportsperson has to face, early in his or her life. It is the same for me as well.
It is difficult to manage school, along with my practice, and along with my tuitions as well. My schedule keeps changing according to my competitions. For instance, if there is a competition approaching, I give more time and priority to my training. In the final few days before the tournament, I usually don’t attend school or my tuitions.
When there is no competition nearby, I give more time to my studies. I do train, as well. However, it is usually once a day or something.
I have had to give up on certain things as well, make some sacrifices for my benefit. Every sportsperson has been through the same or has to go through the same. It is not easy, however.
Everything is complicated in the beginning, or it seems that way. You do have to sacrifice something to gain something. But at the end of the day, when you work hard, and you get the results, you realise that everything you went through was worth it.
So I think at that point in time you are motivated. You don’t need any external motivation. You know that everything you are going through right now will pay off and it is going to be worth it. It automatically motivates you.
For a young sportsperson, every victory is unique. It helps you justify your decision of walking down a path which not many have taken before. However, there is also a flipside to it. There is a distinct lack of experience at this age and victories can go straight to your head. Sometimes victories make you feel invincible. Seldom they make you feel vulnerable.
It has happened to me in the past that after a victory I am immediately overtaken by self-doubt. I begin questioning myself. What if I am not able to do good? What if my performances go down? What if my opponent shoots better? What if I pull terribly?
At this point, you have to take a deep breath. You have to pull yourself together, be patient, and believe in your abilities. You have to keep the right temperament at the right time.
It also comes with experience. The more you grow, the better you understand your abilities and the calmer you get.
However, one thing that I find better in young sportspersons is that they are incredibly passionate. You don’t think logically. Your excitement carries you through, even in the most difficult of situations. You don’t believe that the person in front of me is one of the best in the world, you just want to win. That’s a plus point of being a young sportsperson.
In the end, I would just like to say that this whole process takes time. You cannot be a champion in one day. Everybody excels at their own time; you just need to be patient enough.