“It takes sacrifice”Carl Lewis, Olympic ChampionCarl Lewis and Sir Richard HadleeBeing a champion is something special. I came from a wonderful family, my parents were both coaches and they always encouraged us. When I was growing up, I never thought I would be a champion athlete. I had two brothers,”It takes sacrifice”Carl Lewis, Olympic ChampionCarl Lewis and Sir Richard HadleeBeing a champion is something special. I came from a wonderful family, my parents were both coaches and they always encouraged us. When I was growing up, I never thought I would be a champion athlete. I had two brothers who were successful athletes. I learned at a young age what it was like to not be successful in sports. My mother told me I would be great in athletics and she always said it with her hands behind her back. And I used to wonder why till I realised her fingers were crossed behind her back. I never won races as a kid. But I always set goals for myself. I learned to focus on being the best you can be.As I got older I continued to study and work hard so I could get a scholarship. In my senior year in high school, I became a national champion and national record holder. I started to think, hey, I could be at the Olympics one day. At Houston University, when I met my coach, I looked him in the eye, and said, I am happy to be here. I want to run and be a great athlete. I want to be a millionaire and never have a real job. He said, if you focus on making money and fame, it is never going to happen. Focus on being the best, and you could be an Olympic champion.advertisementIt took hard work and discipline and focus. In my second year of college, I set my first world record. Then I went to a long jump competition where I was leading after three jumps. Though I wasn’t jumping that well, I was winning the competition. I wasn’t entirely focused because I was winning. The coach called me over and said, you are not jumping well. You do not need me, so take over. And he turned and walked out of the stadium. It hit me strongly because I realised that when you get to the top, it becomes even more difficult. You have to keep your focus. Being a champion means always being your best. When I was down with my next jump-I missed the world record by 1cm-he came running back and said, we have two more jumps, now we can set this record. I didn’t set the record that day, but it prepared me for later competitions. I won the long jump and 100 metres.I wondered what it was like for Jesse Owens-my idol- to win four gold medals. I wondered if I could ever do that, because I was a sprinter and did the same events. In 1981, I asked my coach what he thought about me trying to do all four events in 1984. He said, if you want to do it, we have to plan it out now. We set the plan, according to which I would add one more event each year. I was the world No.1 in 100m and long jump then, and I added the 200m next year. Then I added all three events. I had to focus 100 per cent on what I had to do. The events were totally different and I had different shoes for each. I concentrated all my energy according to whatever shoes I wore. It is important to believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people who have the same kind of motivation, attitude and focus as you.WHEN YOU GET TO THE TOP, IT BECOMES EVEN MORE DIFFICULT. BEING A WORLD CHAMPION MEANS ALWAYS BEING YOUR BEST. In 1983, I competed with nationals and I won all three events, but I didn’t go through the world championship. I didn’t do 200m. People wondered if I could compete in all four events. I had great seasons that year, and then they said, it is possible. The focus of the question shifted from can you do it, to what do you think will happen if you get only three. People asked me, would you be disappointed if you won only three golds? Going to the Olympics is a great thing. But hearing people say you would be disappointed if you won only three gold medals-I didn’t get that. That is how they were able to raise expectations. It was important to map out a plan and focus on winning the competition. One had to really stick to that plan. When I got to the Olympic trials, I realised, for the first time, after one of the events, that I could actually do it.advertisementWhen you go to the Olympic, it is altogether different. I went through the competition and I won the first one. I competed over a period of eight days, with just one day off. On the first day, when I won the 100m, the race ended at 7 p.m., and after drug testing and interviews, I went home at 11 o’clock. I had dinner and went to sleep, because at 10 in the morning, I had the long jump and I had to be up four behours early. I had just won the Olympic gold medal in 100m. and I didn’t have one second to celebrate. The minute the race was over, I was already thinking about tomorrow. This went on for the entire week, throughout which the foremost thing was staying focused, because one little slip could make you lose the race. Thus I went on to win four gold medals.Being a champion involves many elements-staying focused, working hard and having good team mates. People around you can help you succeed by telling you the truth when you are not doing what should do. Without the coaching, it would not have happened for me, and I feel fortunate about that. When I talk to kids I say this one thing: if life was easy everybody would be good at it; it isn’t supposed to be like that. So take on the challenge for being the best you can be. That is how you become successful. Oh, and one last thing-make sure you always look good on TV.”Think about destiny”Sir Richard Hadlee, New Zealand Ex-CricketerI served New Zealand cricket during the 1980s, when we remained undefeated at home in Test Series. When you look at what makes a champion, I believe it goes back to when you are young. I was fortunate to be brought up in a cricketing environment. My father captained New Zealand, my brothers had represented New Zealand. As a youngster, I had the gear, the equipment, the encouragement to play the game. I remember going into the garage at home and putting on my father’s cricket cap. I had a ball on a string and I hit that ball again and again, never got out and always scored a hundred. When I felt I had scored an imaginary Test hundred, I would lift my bat up and wave it to the imaginary crowd. Since my hand was too small to bowl a cricket ball, I bowled a golf ball. That was at the age of five. At 16, I helped operate the giant scoreboard at Lancaster Park. I looked over at the Test match in progress and said to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful one day to be up there playing a real Test match for my country? Five years later, that dream became a reality. I learnt that talent only gets you so far; it needs to be converted into performance. And to do that you need skills. There is no room for complacency.advertisementMENTAL TOUGHNESS IS AS MUCH ABOUT WINNING AGAINST THE ODDS AS IT IS ABOUT BEING RUTHLESS WHEN IT IS TOO EASY. Now I tell you that I bowled 1,10,000 cricket balls during my first-class international career. I tried to perfect that skill to become clinically efficient, but I also tried to visualise things happening during my career. In 1988, I needed one more wicket to become the world record holder. I had visualised the next opportunity that I would get to bowl my next ball. It was at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. I read up on the venue. I knew that a fellow called Kris Srikkanth was the Indian opening batsman. I knew his technique, I had got him out before and I knew he batted in a blue helmet. On November 12, 1988, things I had visualised were on track, until my dream was totally shattered. Srikkanth came out to bat in a white helmet. The other opening batsman was Arun Lal-I had never heard of him. I was distracted. I had be came too narrow minded. When you visualise, you need to have a wide picture. Arun Lal became a world record wicket and a few balls later, Kris Srikkanth did as well.I kept questioning whether I could go beyond what I thought I was capable of achieving. I was aiming for the English cricket county double-a double is capturing 100 first-class wicket during the season and scoring 1,000 runs in that same season. I had 20 matches to achieve this goal, so I worked out a budgeted calculation. Simply five wickets and 50 runs a game. But if I didn’t get five wickets in a game or didn’t get to bat or got out for naught, the budget and the goal changed, so I had to be flexible. I was on target for the wicket tally but I was always behind on the run tally. Nottinghamshire was to play Middlesex. We had bowled Middlesex out for 168 and when we batted we had lost 4 wickets for 17 runs. Captain Clive Rice said to me, “Go out there and score a double hundred.” I said, we are in trouble, you are out for naught and you are telling me to go there and score a double hundred against one of the best bowling attacks? He said, just go out there and do it. I walked up to bat and came back with 210 not out. Rice had put a thought in my mind that I had never considered before. One should go beyond what one thinks one is capable of achieving.Mental toughness comes when you improve your performance to win against the odds. But it is also about handling the situation when it is all too easy and having the ability to be ruthless and efficient. My job as a bowler was not only to get batsmen out, it was to destroy the opposition to help win games, and sometimes end the playing career of some players. I had a little card in my bag to keep me focused, with four words in it: rhythm, offstump, desire and Lillee. Bowling was about rhythm and coordination. It was about being relaxed. If I was stiff and tense, my body was not going to function. The offstump was my target area. My desire and my job was to get the batsmen out. Dennis Lillee, arguably the greatest fast bowler in the history of the game, was my role model.I was motivated by a number of things and what motivated me wouldn’t necessarily motivate other people. I was motivated by competition. I wanted to be the best. I was motivated by a determination to prove a point. And I have never forgotten what my father once said to me. He said, Richard, whatever you do, take pride in your performance. Do it to the best of your ability. I was also motivated by statistics and records, rewards and recognition. To quote from an unknown source, “We cannot choose to be born, we cannot choose our parents, we cannot choose our country, we cannot choose our history. But in a choiceless society, we can choose to live honourably or dishonourably. We can live courageously or in cowardice. We can live with purpose or drift. But in the end, forming your destiny is what ambition is all about.” DISCUSSIONQ. Carl, should India concentrate on sports that it thinks it can win medals in or is it better to go across the board? Lewis: I think you have enough people. You can do all of the sports. You really need people who set the tone. I refuse to believe that there is not someone who can be a world-class sprinter or marathoner somewhere amongst the billion people. What India would need is people with credibility.Q. Sir Richard, would you say that in a team sport like cricket, the focus is different from that in individual sports? Hadlee: Cricket is a team sport but it is also one of the greatest individual sports, because 11 people are going to take to the field to play. It is a one-on-one battle between the bowler and the batsman, skill against skill, and when you talk about the all-rounder, he has got to bowl and also bat. It is probably the hardest role to play. It takes a special person who will be able to handle the role and the pressure of that particular job. So, cricket is a bit different than many other sports.Q. Both of you said the two key ingredients for success are focus and mental strength. Are these hereditary traits or can they be developed? Hadlee: You can have all the skills and all the talent but it takes preparation, an attitude to do the right thing and sacrifices. If you miss any of those elements, you are a lesser performer. Lewis: When you have confidence- confidence comes from preparation and hard work and being ready-luck is made in lot of cases. Because you have to be ready for what is going to happen.Q. What keeps you motivated after you reach the 400th wicket or get the world record? Hadlee: When you achieve a goal it does not happen in one giant step. You find what goal-setting is all about. Once you have achieved that particular goal, you must look to find something to keep you going. Lewis: I never focused on a world record but only on performance. A lot of young people in sports will think of the end result first and I think there is a process to get to that end result and that is the training and preparation.Q. Carl, you came to the system with talented athletes- Willie Gault, Emmitt King and Calvin Smith. What was the difference between you and them? Lewis: I have always felt that my coach was the best. But I guess at the end of the day, some of it is talent, some of it is drive. I wanted to be the best I could be. I was not afraid of trying things. Most people do not try to compete in four events.Q. Should sportsmen look more towards money than towards sports? Cricket, at least, is now more about money. Hadlee: Money is the end result of performance. When young people burst on the sports scene, they want the cars, the contracts, the endorsements, the fees and all the extras before they have even earned it. And if you perform well over a period of time, the rewards take care of themselves. A lot of youngsters have got it all back to front in their attitude and approach to sports.