“Being a woman athlete, especially a Muslim athlete, it was extremely tough for me to handle social pressure. …..It hasn’t been easy, but I won’t stop chasing my dream.” In an interview, these were the words of national boxing star Nikhat Zareen, a gold medallist in this year’s Commonwealth Games (CWG). Who better than Nikhant Zareen to symbolise ‘India winning’ as the country celebrates ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav ‘, marking 75 years of Independence? Nikhant and 216 Indian athletes competed fiercely against sports stars from 72 commonwealth countries in Birmingham, bagging an impressive 61 medals, including 22 golds. But the victory was not just about who won which medal or whose record was broken, it was about triumphing over tremendous odds. These sports stars have proved that financial adversity doesn’t kill ambitions. Weightlifter Harjinder worked on a chaff-cutting machine for hours to build her muscle strength. Silver medalist Sanket Sargar’s father still sells paan and chai. Neither poverty nor physical pain has deterred our athletes from doing their best to bring honour to the country. Our hard-working athletes proved to the world that winners don’t need the most expensive coaches or priciest sneakers to get on to the podium; what is more important is their own ‘Mehnat’. And the nation’s ‘izzat’ gives them a high when they win. We should imbibe the same spirit. So let’s first feel Indian. And not give up, regardless of how vitiated the political the environment is. There will always be road bumps and hurdles to cross in this unending steeplechase of life. But love is a lot like that arduous race. Love for one another and love for our nation. Our 216 sportspeople played unitedly for Team India. Nothing else mattered. They participated as one entity, ignoring religious and linguistic differences, castes, eating habits, customs, rituals and traditions. Co-athletes did not ask or care which God heard their prayers or who performed them. They focused on winning. Let’s learn from our sports people and take a hop, step and jump into an equal future for all Indians. Yeh Mera India! I love India! Jai Hind! ~

Aaditya Jindal Class X

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