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Grace in victory and failure ................

There’s a lot of tournaments, matches, regattas, meets that has been scheduled for this year.  Our sportsmen and sportswomen have trained for months to get to this point and the wait is almost over. Inter-uni and nationals are just around the corner.

But what if you aren’t ready? It’s this dark cloud of worry that hangs over everyone who does sports, or basically anyone who’s tried to do anything (people, this means you!), at some point in their life. This feeling of not being enough. This is why we push ourselves because you can always get better and unfortunately the opposite rings true as well; you can get worse too. So really, when you’re nearing the end, the last few laps of the race to the big countdown, it’s only natural that you go hot and cold and every shade of emotion you find in a Katy Perry song because admit it – the big dream that we’ve dared to dream, and most importantly, dared to embark on, is finally here and you just gotta win it.

However winning is not everything (and no, this is not something the losers say to console themselves. It’s fact!). Because it matters “how” you win. Because in sports you find people who are survivors. Those who have battled against the odds and their own personal demons. We all have these little demonic imps of doubt and despair who torment us when we’re at our lowest. So you’re battling for a win against people just like yourself who share the same dream as you do. It’s rare indeed that you find a group of people who are so focused on one thing at the same time on the same place; almost a miracle. Some might say it’s two separate wills battling for dominance but I say it’s unity. And at the end of the day it matters if you’ve won “gracefully”  in the full spirit of sportsmanship.

What is sportsmanship really? It’s not shallow words and fake smiles but what you truly feel in your heart. A “fair” battle of skill but not a battle of egos or self-worth. When you win, you’ll win simply because you’ve played better than your opponent at that space in time. But time’s fluid, what was true today might not be true tomorrow and that’s why we practice; to keep the dream alive and strong. Because why go back since you’ve come this far? And if you want to be true to yourself – be someone that your younger self would look up to and be proud of. You don’t have to look very far to find a role model, just look inside yourself. 

Don’t hesitate to help a fellow sportsman or sportswoman in need, no matter where they come from. So gentlemen and ladies, lend a hand to your fellow comrades in arms because everyone falls, and it would a beautiful world indeed if we could all find a shoulder to lean on at our time of need may it be it a stranger or not.

And if you lose, don’t lose your confidence. Because hey you’ve lost one match already, you can’t afford to lose your spirit. Your spirit will keep you alive, lose it and you’ll only exist. Remember the cheers of the crowd and the voices of your team urging you on and remember how you felt as one with them, connected as never before. Because that is your motivation; that immense unified force of will, the stuff miracles are made of. Walk away proud, your head held high, because deep in your heart you will know that you’ll be coming back here again, gearing up for a victory. 

Just like Dean Karnazes, the Ultra Marathon Runner said “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up”. So never give up on being a good sportsman or sportswoman. While you’re at it, never give up on being a good human being either. 

-Sapuni Hettiarachchi-

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