Against all odds: Saina Nehwal and MC Mary Kom
8th November is a date remembered by the people of India, for reasons good or bad. As the Bharatiya Janta Party celebrates Anti Black Money Day, there come two stories of hard-fought victories that would certainly fillip the nation’s spirit.
Saina Nehwal and MC Mary Kom are names in Indian sport that need no introduction. Both of them have earned laurels for India and inspired an entire generation. Saina (27) and Mary (34) by winning their respective final matches helped reinstate the fact that ‘Age is just a number’.
Well played Parliamentarian Mary
‘What keeps people going?’ is a question that has interested philosophers over centuries. Is it the desire to come into the limelight or to earn loads of money? But what about people who have all of that and a lot more? What keeps them motivated?
“I am not finished yet”, was the resounding answer by Hmangte Chungneij aka MC Mary Kom after she defeated Korea’s Kim Hyang Mi 5-0 to clinch her 5th Asian Boxing title. As a mother of three kids and an active member of the Rajya Sabha, this has been an awe-inspiring achievement by the champion boxer.
“I am really happy the way this Championship has panned out. I would like to dedicate this victory to all those who have supported me even though the world had written me off. I would like to thank my coaching staff who worked hard with me over the last few months,” a teary eyed Mary said after her victory.
Where there is a will, there is a way
Saina came out with flying colours to defeat the current world no 2 PV Sindhu 21-17, 27-25 in straight sets to clinch the women’s singles title in the Senior National Badminton Championships. With this victory, she has silenced all her critics who foreboded Sindhu to have an edge over the 27-year-old. With this win, she not only laid her hands on the national championship for the third time but also went 2-1 up against Sindhu in national competitions.
The former world number one had been struggling with her fitness in the recent past. Even her Rio Olympic endeavor was plagued by knee injury. Her premature exit from the Olympics in the second round of the women’s singles came as a setback for her fans. But it was her fighting spirit and never say die attitude that helped her bounce back.
“I am surprised with the way I played today. I moved well and picked Sindhu’s difficult shots,” said Saina after a hard-fought clash that lasted 54 minutes. Rocket smashes and deft drop shots were on display as Saina was at her classic best.
Battle within a battle
When you reach a certain level in sports the fight with yourself becomes more prominent than anything else. Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom have achieved most of what was there to be achieved. Both of them are Arjuna, Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna and Padma Bhushan awardees.
Mary Kom is a five-time world boxing champion. She has clinched the Asian Boxing Championship an equal number of times. Saina, on the other hand, has over twenty international titles to her name. She is an Olympic bronze medalist and the only female shuttler from India to hold the World No. 1 ranking.
In spite of all their achievements, their perseverance and hunger to keep performing remains intact. Through their untiring efforts, they aspire to achieve more for their country each day. This is what makes them exceptional and a role model for the upcoming sports crop.