Finally, Lewis can be the prom queen.
What Nico Rosberg did this season requires immense talent, perseverance, and hard work. He made the title his own when everyone stacked their chips on his much decorated colleague/competitor.
He defied the odds. He won. Then, he quit.
The world was shocked. Tweets of ‘Oh Nico, why so soon?’ poured in but his decision shouldn’t have surprised anyone. He did exactly what he has done over the years – play a safe hand.
Make no mistake; he’s a fabulous driver – one of the best around. He tight with his team. Knows his car, got skills and this season, fought his guts out to put Lewis Hamilton, a much faster driver, in his shadows.
But he always missed an extra gear. Both on-the-track and off it.
He retired for the right reasons though. He said, “I’m following my heart. My heart is telling me this.” It’s important to ‘follow your heart’ in sport. Because if you didn’t, you won’t be in sport anyway. But that statement was for fans who romanticise the ‘quit when you’re at the top’ concept.
‘Retiring on top’ is the most boring cliché in sport. If it was so appealing Roger Federer wouldn’t have stuck around for number 18. Diego Maradona would have hung up his boots after 1986. Sachin Tendulkar would have waved goodbye after 2011. Michael Jordan wouldn’t have made god knows how many comebacks and Michael Phelps would have never bothered about his 23rd Olympic Gold.
Every athlete longs for a fairy tale ending. But the great ones desire a scrap – a fight so dirty that it demands them to strip off their aura and makes them go through the wall. Again.
The greats don’t walk away easily, they go another round. And then, another. They keep pushing the bar higher because just being the best isn’t good enough for them. They want more. They want more because of an insatiable hunger for being at the top. They want to stay there and hold on to their top seat until the last sinew in their body snaps.
Even when their skills and physical ability starts to give up on them, they refuse to give in. They double the odds and go all in to try one last time. It’s what makes a sportsperson so different — the ability to believe that things will work out.
It brings them criticism. They are written off. Their legacy threatened. Their glorious past questioned. But they don’t stop. They don’t until they have gone that one more round.
Rosberg took 11 painful years to climb the summit. This season, he pushed his limits and won.
But when was winning enough?
May be for him it was. May be, he didn’t want another dirty fight. Rosberg knew he wasn’t the fastest and next season, he would be up against a wounded Hamilton and a hungry Max Verstappen.
He did the intelligent thing.
Rosberg is one of the likeable sportsmen around. Down to earth and always with a smile lurking. Even during the ‘Lewis pressers’, he managed to hold his poise. He hardly went overboard both on and off-the-track. His anger was measured. His frustrations were measured. Even his celebrations had little madness about them.
No wonder, Rosberg didn’t want to start again. He wanted to leave as the champion.
Hence, he walked away. Sadly, so did greatness…Away from him.