This Olympic games at Rio, are probably the only one which I’ve followed so closely. Watched all the games where Indians competed, along with the ones with Usain Bolt (because come on, who would miss Bolt making & breaking records!!). I asked myself, why didn’t I watch the other Olympic games? Those were telecasted too, and we had a TV even then. Then why not? Maybe because other games didn’t interest me. Maybe because I wasn’t so immersed in social media then.
The moment I saw the headlines, “India is sending it’s largest ever contingent to Olympics!” a sense of pride kicked in. Of course, it wasn’t just the largest (118 athletes!) it was also supposed to be the most trained & strongest ever.
At Beijing Olympics – 3 medals.
At London Olympics – 6 medals.
So it goes without saying, I expected more than 10 medals this time. But –
At Rio Olympics – 2 medals.
India currently holds 28 medals, just like Michael Phelps.
The reason for my excitement was the fact that it ain‘t easy to Qualify. If it was, we would have always sent more athletes. Also because after 2012, if you want to represent India, you can train anywhere in the world, with whoever you want to, with Government’s funds. Say no to ugly politics in the system, say hello to latest facilities & world class coaching.
(Before 2012, athletes didn’t have many options & had to attend training camps set up by SAI – Sports Authority of India.)
But the happiness was short lived.
We couldn’t get a single medal for like 12 days after the games started.
An athlete failed. Okay. .that’s understandable. Wasn’t his day. But we are talking about 118 athletes here. Why all failed?? Isn’t this something to worry about?? This made me think.
A country with 1.3 billion population has TWO Olympic medals in 2016. Why?
A so called page 3 celebrity even tweeted, “Goal of Team India at the Olympics: Rio jao. Selfies lo. Khaali haat wapas aao. What a waste of money and opportunity!”
To be honest, I’m glad she made such derogatory remark, because her tweet UNITED others in the support of our athletes.
Yeah, nothing unites us more than Sports. More than a controversy.
Yes we are proud they made it this far. But really, how proud are we, with two medals?
Let’s try to figure out the reasons. What went wrong?
Bachpan se sikhaya jaata hai –
“Padhoge likhoge to banoge nawab, Kheloge kudoge to honge kharab.”
This explains India’s performance at Olympics so far.
We are told to choose careers like Engineers, & Doctors. No one tells us to become an Olympian. We are so focused in studies that we are lagging in sports. Who would have thought that?
Also, let’s not forget poor infrastructure. You can’t win a medal without proper facilities & equipments. India’s weightlifting bronze medalist Karnam Malleswari has herself said that the weights given to her to train on didn’t meet Olympic standards!!
Someone argued that we should not forget the fact that America & China send way more athletes than we do. Well, they send more because THEY QUALIFIED.
Aisa to hai nahi ki India mei Talent ki kami hai. We have athletes like Sachin Tendulkar, & Sania Mirza.
SPORTS IS A RELIGION IN INDIA.
OH WAIT, CRICKET IS A RELIGION IN INDIA.
We are just not interested in other sports. I saw wrestling for the first time in this Olympics. I’m sure most of you did too.
It just feels good listening that oh wow we have won! We aren’t bothered to see the sports. We just like the fact that we are winning. I heard Sakshi Malik’s name for the first time when she qualified for the games. I’m sure, most of you heard her name, when she finally won a bronze for us. First woman wrestler from India to win an Olympic medal. Wow. But do you know she was ridiculed for pursuing her dreams? Because apparently Wrestling isn’t a girls game. It’s ‘men only’. Babita Kumari (who couldn’t win), and her sister Geeta Phogat were the first names that emerged in the arena because their father didn’t give up even when the society ostracised him. (You can see their story in Aamir Khan’s Dangal)
This Olympics will be remembered for our girls. P.V Sindhu created history by getting us our second medal that too a silver!! Again, first Indian woman to do that.
Deepa Karmakar & Lalita Babar made history just by qualifying.
So, you can imagine the situation where history is being made not by winning but by qualifying for the Finals.
I’ll still take that as a win. It shows a true change in Indian sports culture.
Moreover, it’s inspiring. Maybe others will follow their footsteps.
One of the biggest issues our athletes face is the FUNDING. India’s only Olympic Gold medalist shooter, Abhinav Bindra has said, “Each medal costs the UK £5.5 million. That’s the sort of investment needed. Let’s not expect much until we put systems in place at home.” https://twitter.com/Abhinav_Bindra/status/765458700643565568
That’s almost 50 crores!!!
Leave everything aside. If only MEDIA COVERED THESE EVENTS FOR TIMES OTHER THAN JUST THE OLYMPICS TO GARNER INTEREST, MAYBE WE WOULD HAVE BEEN IN A BETTER POSITION.
Also, a corrupted system can’t be ignored anymore. DUTEE CHAND has herself cried out loud about the treatment she was given. Imagine she was scared for asking for new shoes, & this girl was representing India.
It’s not easy becoming an athlete in India. A large part of India’s population is still unable to take part in sports Or have any access to sporting facilities.
Organisations like Mittal Champions Trust (which backed Bindra & Yogeshwar Dutt but is unfortunately closed now), Olympic Gold Quest, Anglian Medal Hunt, JSW sports are bringing a fresh outlook to the game. They are supporting (funding and training) our athletes. Funda is simple really. Catch them young, train, give international exposure & provide equipments, customise diets. Some are non profit, some are profit making associations. Doesn’t matter as long as it’s helping in putting India’s name out there.
I think we all have learnt a lesson this Olympics. It’s not enough to say, “we are proud of you!” It’s time to give other sports like our national game Hockey the same recognition we give to Cricket.
People are announcing cash rewards to Sakshi Malik, & P. V Sindhu. It’s great really, but maybe u can donate so many more Sakshis can emerge.
You matter. Your decisions matter. Respect our athletes. Help these organisations.
Contributing is better than ranting.
I’ve a feeling, if not 2020, 2024 will definitely be our year.
From Rio to Tokyo!