The Final and Me

1 Apr

So, This is it. Final.

The dream. The Pain. The belief. The Trust. The destiny.

The End. All ends here.

In Mumbai, the dream starts at 2:30 local Indian Time at Wankhede.

I would not like to be in 2nd place now. We are almost there. I know… I know you are sore, guys, you are in pain, mental exhaustion more than physical. Because you can numb your physical exhaustion, but mental exhaustion on top of more mental pressure of ‘what it is to be in the Final and not win’.

Phew. It’s horrible, if that happens.

I want to share my personal sports experience.

I was in around grade 8. I had just won the state championship in Judo, weight 35-40 Kg, beating 6 opponents. So, it wasn’t an easy tournament, I played at home. So, you can say, it looks like I had the home advantage. But, in reality, I didn’t. When almost your whole family comes there to support you, to cheer for you, you can hardly distinguish who is shouting or what is being shouted!

You can recognize their voices, while you are fighting. And THAT can be distracting if you are the emotional kind. But, I defied all that – I beat all 6 of them. I still remember how much Glucose powder and water I was chugging after each fight. I was literally boiling. I couldn’t drink much water because I was on an empty stomach. I was so exhausted when I got on Mats for Medal, The Final Fight.

I couldn’t feel my limbs as much as I wanted to. I couldn’t grip my opponent’s Judogi properly. He was slightly skinnier but taller than me. I had wide shoulders, he had very strong legs, constantly moving. In short, he was quicker than me. His Fight- Body position was slightly leaning FWD, that’s offensive posture.

But I don’t know what happened at the time. I have this thing for Mats. I have this thing for the battlefield. Whenever I get on mats, something happens to me. I become an animal. Even in friendly matches, I had sometimes done very offensive throws on my team-mates. AND yes, I have been slapped/scolded for that kind of approach.

So, anyway, I started to stare at my opponent, and did not let him grip my Judogi for 20-30 seconds.

And then, a sudden burst of Epinephrine started to fire. I went for Morote Seoi Nage. Got Point Yuko, which is not enough to win.

Then again. Same Throw. Point – Yuko. Then again same throw, Point – Koka.

I was just so tired. And Time was done. I had won. I couldn’t believe I had just won the 2nd state championship.

Happy Moments.

Not for long though.

We had to go to a 7-day training camp, including those who came 2nd. All weight categories, to prepare for National.

But here was the problem. There was re-fight between the 1st and 2nd on the 7th day, whoever won that went through to National.

Gulp.

I was warned by my master, that DO NOT EVER SHOW YOUR TACTICS, your strength, your abilities in these 7 days.

But I couldn’t help it. I got on the mats in a practice session. We were practicing how to get out from most severe holds. I had developed so many techniques getting out of holds. Many unorthodoxtechniques, just like MSD’s unorthodox shots. In that friendly practice, I was being held by one ofthe boys who was in 40-45 kg category. He held me so tight. My neck was in severe pain. I started to forget those words from my master (to not expose my strength).

Sadly, that epinephrine thing, Mat thing, the animal thing, kicked in. I pulled off from that hold. Igot out of that hold. Using my unique style. People were stunned. The coach who was training us fornational was stunned.

Everyone clapped. My chest swelled. I smiled inside saying “Yes” “I am the one” “I know I amspecial”.

Unfortunately, this practice session was just the day before final Re-Fight day.

You can sense, inside of my mind, I was confident, so confident that ‘Meh, I will beat him the 2ndtime easily”. A guy who shared a room with me, with other fighters for 6 days, who became friendswith me, training together, playing together, eating together etc.

Also, my whole family traveled to the place a day before the re-match, with all of my Judo-teachers.

From our batch, there were 3 more girls and one boy, me. But, who was the one, they were the most confident about! Me. They knew I had the most amount of skills, strength, and hunger to win this again. That coach who saw me like this in practice session told my master what happened, and what I could do the night before. I was in trouble. He came to me and showed me angry eyes, telling me ‘what on earth was I doing! Showing off! I warned you not to show off!’

I was psyched, I saw my whole family had come to watch this re-match. Even my cousins came to see this. They all surprised me. I was happy, but I got so psyched with all this. I was so confused.

Suddenly the Evil question troubled me for whole night.“Can I actually re-win this again?”

The moment that question started to roam around my lobes, it was like a hideous parasite was roaming around jumping from one lobe to another. I was in shock. My face was like the face of an 80-year old who was suffering from constipation. All other weight categories, knew that ‘Meh this guy will make it for sure’ and we had even started to plan for our great journey ahead going to play national.

But that “Can I actually re-win this again?” – that … dreadful virus … actually parasite in fact, was haunting me. No-one knew about it. Only I knew about it. Only I could feel it.

I was under a clinical depression kind of thing.

And the bubble burst. I got on the mats, I felt I had nothing left in me with all this mental exhaustion. I was going for throws, all half hearted, no strength at all. Couldn’t execute any throws. My eyes were searching for help. I knew I was in trouble. Time was running. My opponent managed to get Yuko point. Only 1:30 left. I was going for fluke throws, nothing was working. I tried at least 4 times that good old Morote Seoi Nage, the one that won me my gold medal. Nothing worked. My opponent was sensing fear in my eyes. It was like he had decoded me in these 7 days. I was losing. My dreams were shattering. I still remember my masters’ attempt to help me do this and that, showing signs, he never does that to anyone. I remember those disappointed faces on my cousin’s eyes, who came specially far away to watch me win so I can go to the national, which was avery big thing. I was in pain. Not physical. Mental.

And it happened. End time bell rang.

I lost.

I was shattered.

After match, my cousins were trying to console me. I was running away from everyone. I wanted an empty place. I wanted an alone place, I could feel that something was going to happen to me.

We had to line-up for a resign letter from this camp. Official letter that stated that our Camp wasover, and we were going home.

I burst in tears there. I cried like, I never did in my entire life …. till today I haven’t cried like that. I was in grade 8. But still, I won one more state championship before this, I went to national beforethis. This was my 2nd. But I cried.

I was given nickname “Parshurama” by my Master. Why? Google that name. Google that Giant and look how that character has been portrayed and described.

“Parshuram” cried like a baby that day.

Sigh!

The most dreadful day of my life. I still remember that I cried and saying “I don’t want to go home, I want to go to the national”.

But, you can see that I didn’t actually deserve to win. I was mentally weak.

So, what’s the connection of this with Cricket? I just wanted to give glimpse of this Final and Players, try to see from a different perspective what competitors go through days or hours before big match. I know I was just a tiny boy and it is like dirt compared to a massive cricket world cup final and team India.

However, the intensity of pain that will be felt from loss, will not be that different.

So, I wish Team India to pull this off. Don’t make the mistakes I did.

Please, don’t be psyched by occasion.

Please, try to ignore those billions’ expectations.

Do the right thing.

And the right thing is

to Win it

For yourselves.

This is it.

The Final. 

EDIT: P.S. – Thank You Team India For winning the World Cup. Edited at 4/20/2011

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4 Responses to “The Final and Me”

  1. Naked Cricket April 1, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    man, really enjoyed reading this – at yr expense.

    • knowledge_eater April 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

      Thanks Man, means a lot coming from you. True painful story, I wanted to get it out of my heart.

  2. fckingblog April 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Reading this at a much comfortable point in time. They did it!

    Now I *think* I could have handled defeat but your post just brought back my thoughts from the day before the final, the denial tactics too. Great post!

    • knowledge_eater April 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

      Thanks 🙂 Saarji .. me (and many middle class) and our team have come a long way, I have turned into masochist, which is good thing for survival, but still it would have hurt like hell, if we would have lost.

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