RIO DE JANEIRO (Diya TV) — Rajeev Ram is a new role model for Hindu American children all over the country, and possibly even the world — the 32-year-old and teammate Venus Williams recently showcased a silver medal experience at the Rio Games.
Ram is one of the first Hindu Americans to ever medal at an Olympic Games, and as such, he recognizes the special role he plays as a role model for other young athletes who share his religion.
“I identify, certainly, with anyone of South Asian background in the U.S.,” he said. “It’s a small group. It’s an even smaller group of people of that background who are athletic.”
He says it was his parents, who were deeply entrenched in the happenings of their local Hindu community, who embedded in him the religious values that translated on the tennis court.
“Part of the Hindu religion teaches, more so than anything else, your control of your mind — your self-control, basically,” Ram said. “Obviously, your body’s going to do what your mind tells it to do. If you can have that inner control, a sense of peace, your body’s going to follow.”
Growing up, Ram’s parents cared little about whether he won or lost, instead making certain he kept his cool and didn’t lose his temper. He sooned learned keeping his wits about him wasn’t just a virtue but also a way to improve his score.
It’s also an idea prevalent in the Hindu tradition: Control of the mind leads to control over the body in yoga, too.
Now on the world’s largest stage, he had the entirety of the Hindu American community cheering him on in Rio.
“Hindu Americans are used to having successful scholars, entrepreneurs, and physicians, and have excelled in many professional realms with the exception of sports,” University of Florida religion professor Vasudha Narayanan said. “This is the last frontier, some believe, a sure way of being woven into the American fabric.”