Monday, June 21, 2010

Belief in oneself

After being 8-14 down in the first game, Saina Nehwal fought back and won the finals of the Singapore Open yesterday. Later, she told a reporter, “At 8-14, I was nervous. Then I believed in myself and told myself to play my best and give my 100 percent. That worked for me”. When she won the finals of the Indian Open in Chennai last week, despite being a game down, she said the same thing about believing in ‘herself’.

Saina certainly comes across as a determined person and has demonstrated her grittiness on quite a few occasions when the chips were down.

But then, every sportsperson is trained to behave the same way. Her Chinese competitor must also have been told by her coach, “If you have a 14-8 lead, don’t relax. Go for the kill. And finish your opponent”.

If every competitor believes in herself, plays her best and gives off her 100 percent, as she is trained and mentally conditioned to do, then no match will come to an end. It will stretch on and on, with neither of the players giving in. The one who is leading will bring out her killer instinct, while the one who is trailing will show her fighting spirit, with both ‘believing in themselves’.

But then matches do end and someone does emerge the victor. In this case, was Saina’s 100 percent better than her opponent’s 100 percent? Or was Saina’s belief in ‘herself’ stronger than her opponent’s belief in ‘herself’?

Probably the simpler explanation is that history is written by the winner. The quotes that make it to the headlines are those of the winner’s. So, whenever Saina won she would have been quoted as saying that she believed in herself. And we remember those quotes.

The times that she lost, she wouldn’t have been quoted as saying, “I lost because I didn’t believe in myself”. Or, “I gave only 80% today”.

With reporters screaming for sound bytes, the ‘winner’ is expected to come up with a quotable punch line offering a clear explanation for her victory. It couldn’t have happened by chance. Surely, there was a plan in place and which was executed well? So, the poor sportsperson is forced to come up with these lines whether he or she believes in them or not.

Update 27/6/10: Well, by winning three events in a row, the latest being the Indonesian Open, Saina has demonstrated that her belief in herself is not misplaced. I like her 'quiet' determination, of the non-flamboyant, Rahul Dravid variety. May more such people succeed.


Usha said...

I guess there are some matches when your best is not good enough for the opponent..

Usha said...

and why is your word verification showing characters unrecognisable as English?

Raj said...

Usha, I plead not guilty. You must ask 'blogpot' to explain that.

Ramesh said...

sometimes you are a rationalist nazi

Raj said...

Ramesh : All at once, Heil Raj

RaviKR said...

You will have many more 70-68 game sets as in the recently concluded First round Wimbledon match. Never give up...even if the scoreboard does!!