Rohtak to Rio

Day 231

“You were born a winner, a warrior, one who defied the odds by surviving the most gruesome battle of them all – the race to the egg. And now that you are a giant, why do you even doubt victory against smaller numbers and wider margins? The only walls that exist are those you have placed in your mind. And whatever obstacles you conceive, exist only because you have forgotten what you have already achieved.”

– Suzy Kassem

I think writing, as opposed to public speaking is a good fit for me because every time I tell a story about something that I’m passionate about, I get emotional, and it’s hard for me to get the words out. I feel that way when I watch a medal ceremony at the Rio Games. Like yesterday’s feature image says, It’s always an honor to be able to represent your country, or yourself at the highest level“, and I really get the sense of pride and honor that the athlete is feeling in that moment because I get a bit emotional when the gold medalist’s national anthem begins to play no matter which country it is, but I get especially chocked up when I hear the Canadian, American and Indian national anthems.

You see, I identify with all three countries – even though I was born and raised in Canada, I also identify with my Indian cultural and ancestral roots, and I’ve spent much of my adult life in the U.S., so I feel pride for my American patriots as well. So, when I found out that 23-year old freestyle wrestler, Sakshi Malik, from a small town north of Delhi, India, made history earlier today by bringing home India’s first medal of the 2016 Rio GamesI was bursting with pride.

It’s no coincidence that Sakshi won her bronze medal on Raksha Bandana, an Indian festival that celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations to her, stating that the entire nation is rejoicing. He aptly called her the daughter of India, on this day when all her Indian brethren celebrate their sister’s victory in Rio – hopefully indicative of a growing progressive attitude towards women’s roles in Indian society, and the continuation of a cultural shift with demonstrable equality and respect for all of India’s daughters.

Sakshi has become a nation’s pride, and a role model for young Indian women, manifesting Nike’s ad, depicting a new era of strong and powerful Indian women dominating in sports, that shared with you a couple of weeks ago. It’s also no coincidence that I shared a P&G video thanking Olympic athletes’ moms a couple of days ago, because the ideas behind these two videos culminated into one uniquely Indian video of the joy a mother, and her village felt as they watched their little girl rise to greatness…from Rohtak to Rio. Take a look:

Sakshi’s victory falls on the heels of India’s Independence Day, making it even a bit sweeter. Here’s how Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrated with his Indo-Canadian sisters and brothers on August 15th:

music noteBlog Beats: Mere Desh Ki Dharti by Mahendra Kapoor

I’d like to think that Trudeau’s celebration is Canada’s nod to this rising young Indian woman too. Congratulations Sakshi, you have a lot to be proud of. Your journey to the Olympic podium has not been easy to say the least – growing up in a culture where women weren’t allowed to participate in wrestling events, and supportive parents were berated for the fear that their daughter may become “un-marriageable“, you have shown young girls around the world that following their passions will ultimately lead to victory. Da Da Ding. You go girl!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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