Last weekend was a super one for the world of sport for exactly the reasons why we love sport – a demonstration of resilience and fighting against the odds. We saw two legends of basketball Lebron James and Stephen Curry do what they do best in a last second thriller between the Lakers and Warriors. Then we saw Test cricket at its best with England and West Indies coming back from behind to beat favourites India and Australia respectively. The hero of the Windies’ win Shamar Joseph’s backstory is in itself a fairytale. And then the epic Australian open tennis singles final with Jannik Sinner coming back from two sets down to script a historic win. All shows of tenacity and resilience. Yet, our favourite was Rohan Bopanna’s first grand slam title in men’s doubles in the process becoming the top ranked doubles player in the world, the oldest ever to achieve both at a ripe age of 43.

“I say I’m at level 43, not age 43 now!” said Rohan Bopanna during his speech at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on the night of January 27, after winning his maiden men’s doubles grand slam, the Australian Open.

…Bopanna’s story is that of resilience, one that has seen him play on court for over two decades, awaiting the euphoric highs. It came way back in 2017 when Bopanna won the French Open mixed doubles title with Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski.

Bopanna’s first men’s doubles major has come in what was his 61st grand slam appearance, and with his 19th partner.

…Bopanna’s 40s’ renaissance, he has famously said, can be attributed to his discovery of yoga, specifically Iyengar yoga. In the post-victory press conference, he said the four months when he was home-bound during the Covid pandemic turned out to be a “blessing in disguise” as he found an instructor “right next to his home”. The 90-minute sessions, four times a week, he adds, not only strengthened him physically but also made him “calmer” and helped him “focus a lot better”.

Focused Bopanna surely is. Recently awarded the Padma Shri, Bopanna is only getting started with 2024. “Never ever have any limitations; keep believing in yourself because you never know when life can change and make it absolutely magical,” said Bopanna in a pre-recorded message shared with the media. He sounded like a motivational speaker/ guru. With white specks in his beard, he looks like one too.

But in Bopanna’s case, the message takes renewed significance. Here’s an athlete who almost gave up the game four years ago. Soon to be 44, he is peaking when most have to hang their boots. The Bopanna show has only begun.”

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