Is a gold medal really worth it?

Rajat Chauhan
Published: 05, Apr 2013

Rajat is a militant advocate of increased physical activity and exercises for all. He has been running for last 28 years and in his spare time is a doctor specializing in Medical-Osteopathy, Musculo-Skeletal Medicine (London College of Osteopathic Medicine) and Sports-Exercise Medicine (Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham). He also is the Founder & Race Director of La Ultra - The High, the world's cruelest & highest ultra marathon - 222 km in Leh. He loves to turn conventional wisdom on its head, esp. in sickness industry, which some people also know as Healthcare industry. But all of what he says or suggests is backed up with scientific evidence. His special interest is in helping all, sedentary to sportspeople, to perform at their optimum levels, whether it be dealing with a disease, pain (back, neck, knee, shoulder etc) or in sports (Golf, Tennis, Running, Football, Swimming etc). Since there is no one answer for all, he has specialized in multi-modality approach ranging from posture correction, muscle balance, physical activity, floor and machine based exercises, acupuncture / dry needling, osteopathic medicine, deep tissue massage, myo-fascial release, mesotherapy, bit of psychotherapy etc. He was elect-Chairperson for World Congress of Science and Medicine in Cricket, that was held just before the 2011 Cricket World Cup in the sub-continent, but decided to quit. He previously headed a London centre of Kieser Training, a Swiss-German chain of rehabilitation centres. He moved to India in 2006 to set-up a Sports & Exercise Medicine department at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore. In mid 2008 he started his own venture called Back 2 Fitness, a musculo-skeletal (aches and pain rehab) medicine and sports & exercise medicine rehabilitation centre, which is now based in Delhi NCR. In 2009, along with a running buddy, he set-up Runners High in Bangalore, a running institute with the intention of training people how to run properly without getting hurt. He is also a columnist with Mint newspaper for over 4 years, where his column is called Treadmill on Business of Life page.

Hiral Peddar flyover

It's amazing to see that for the longest time in history, we have been so crazy about winning, rather, wanting someone else to win a gold medal at the highest level in any sports in an arena. A lot of effort, time and money is spent in pursuit of that much-sought-after award. Rules and fair play are considered as coming in the way of getting to that final destination. Once we have a champion amongst ourselves, we overnight make them demi-gods. All their flaws are over-looked. Everyone is in love with them. Today's media makes it happen at an ever crazier pace and magnitude.

Very few of us ever get motivated to start moving because of these champions. In any case, we love them because they, in our eyes, have supernatural powers. Majority of us enjoy being mere spectators and clap our hands.

Soon enough, we start to see chinks in the armour of most of these 'demi-gods' and we suddenly go to the other extreme of hating them. Did they in the first place deserve that status? They didn't ask for it, we gave it to them on a platter. Who is to blame here then? In any case, we need to be looking elsewhere for that role model.

It was a couple of years ago that an Indian study showed how today's kids would rather have their parents as role models, and not movie and sports stars. Very surprising, but something not to be ignored. We all need mentors and role models that are more like us, and not very aloof. The superstars make it to the posters, but when it comes to living our lives, it is much easier when we can easily relate to them.

I am sure you will not be surprised to know that there is no dearth of real champions, who don't get crores of rupees as sponsorship money and have a very regular life where they have to make ends meet. But they still find the time to do things that they enjoy, as a matter of fact, make their lives a lot better.

I had gone to this year's Mumbai Marathon to pace a friend, to help him to do it in under 4hrs 30minutes. I saw something amazing at the much dreaded Peddar Road flyover where most runners who have trained for the half or full marathon also crawl their way up. Peddar Road flyover comes at 37 km mark for full marathon (42km) and 16 km mark for half marathon (21km). There was this amazing lady who was running up this flyover. She was by no means petite. I congratulated her on her spirit but then ran back to take her video. On checking the results, I saw that she did first 6.5 km in 1hr 19min and 9km in 2hr. More importantly, her 80 kgs did not discourage her from not only participating in Mumbai marathon, but even taking the toughest part of the course head on. It's champions like this who need more recognition.

Hiral Thakar, ma'am, hats off to you for your amazing spirit and approach to life.

From now on, besides my regular blog, I will be doing a series on regular people who are the actual super stars, people who have changed your lives. I am not looking for folks who have won medals and trophies. Please get in touch.

Enough of sitting down, now get up and bend backwards and then go for a walk.

Keep miling and smiling.

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