Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ashleigh Barty, confidence personified

Ashleigh Barty. Photo source: Tennis World
There were plenty of sporting action during the past 10 days that kept me hooked to the television. Besides the French Open tennis championship and the Cricket World Cup, the ones that I was following keenly, there was also the Women's Cricket World Cup and Women's Football World Cup.

The biggest takeaway of the tennis tournament was the astounding display of determination and skill by a lady from Australia, named Ashleigh Barty. She is now ranked number two in the world, just behind the Naomi Osaka.

When the tournament started, not many had Barty as a favourite. But she quietly emerged to be in the reckoning and finally walked away with the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.

The victory of Barty is not just the triumph of her tennis abilities, but also about her supreme confidence. I was looking at her biodata. She trained from childhood in tennis and did impressively in different matches. She turned professional at 14 and got into the Grand Slam circuit a year later.

She began to make her mark in doubles, and in 2012, at the age of 16, she became the youngest finalist in Australian Open since 2004; and as a team, she and  Casey Dellacqua became the first Australian duo to reach an Australian Open women's doubles finals since 1977.


But the best and the most interesting part of her career graph is that in 2014, she quit tennis and took to cricket, and even played in the league games for Brisbane Heat.

In 2016, she thought she was done with cricket and came back to tennis. The point to be noted here is that it's not easy switching from one game to another like this. In spite of doing that to win a Grand Slam tournament like the French Open is truly an amazing feat! 


The World Cup cricket is on, and we have seen some very interesting matches. England, Australia, New Zealand and West Indies and India are I guess the favourites.

In a bad coincidence, both the Wimbledon final and World Cup cricket final will be on the same day, July 14. Not the first time. Last year, the tennis finale clashed with World Cup football final.

In a big dampener, the matches yesterday and the day before got washed out because of rain. Nothing like bad weather interrupting an interesting match or tournament. Hope the weather over different match venues clear up and we will have interesting matches.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Beth French: The importance of knowing when to give up

This blog post is a part of the
We Are The World Blogfest
This is an amazing story, one which will make us stop, ponder and introspect.

Some of you might have already read about British swimmer Beth French. Even if you have, her story is so inspirational that it's worth going over it again and again.

At the age of 10, Beth began to feel very weak and tired. It progressively got worse. Finally, at the age of 17, she was diagnosed with ME or myalgic encephalomyelitis, also called chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS.

Beth French in an interview
to ITV's Lorraine 
Things were so bad that she couldn't lift her hand to brush her hair, and a day came when she couldn't even get up to sit on the wheelchair.


The condition ME is a collection of symptoms and there's no proper cure. Her mom took Beth to an alternative therapist to find out if they could find some way to improve things.

Beth had to take a totally new look at herself and her life. Drawing up a bucket list was one way -- achieving each task would give Beth a sense of fulfilment and hope.

Beth loves water
The bucket list helped. She fought against her conditions, both mind and body, and she ticked off one after the other. There was some improvement but things weren't fully okay.

There was one more in the list -- to swim to France. She achieved that by swimming for 15 hours. By the way, as a child Beth liked water, and swimming almost came naturally to her.

She was working and a single mother. She wanted to not only challenge herself with harder tasks but also demonstrate to her child Dylan that anything is possible. The best part was Dylan was always with her not just physically but also emotionally motivating his mother.


She now decided that she would swim the seven of the world's most dangerous ocean channels, called Ocean 7, in one year. She completed four, but things were not okay at home as Dylan, who was then close to eight years, was showing signs of autism.

In a disappointing turnaround, Dylan began telling her mom not to swim. His anxiety levels went up so much that Beth couldn't leave her son even with her mom.

This made Beth think. We are always told never to give up, but she realised that after a point, we all have to make a choice.

Listen to this extraordinary story of Beth French on BBC's Outlook, on the importance of knowing when to give up.

Beth succeeded at first by not giving up and later succeeded by giving up. She chose her son over swimming because she had proved her point, to herself more than to anyone else, what she can achieve. Now there was another challenge.

She realised that she had reached her destination before the finishing line. She says it is so empowering to make a choice -- her choice to take up the challenge and now the choice to give it up.


Beth French's website

Beth French on BBC News Points West (a programme for the West of England)

Beth French on ITV's Lorraine