Indian Olympic Dream

Thursday, August 21, 2008

“Dreams are not those which we see in our sleep, dreams are those which don’t let us sleep”

Indeed, a dream has come true. India won three medals at the Olympics - a proud moment! For the first time ever in the history of modern Olympics did we get three medals and that too in individual events. It is the biggest moment in India's sporting history.

We believe in hero worship and that is precisely what Beijing has given us. Three superheroes to look up to. It was inspiring to see small town athletes with little or no support from the Government managing to do the country proud. There was another positive fallout of the glory at Beijing. Cash flowed in. I hope that the winners put it to good use and train harder for London but only after getting a decent lifestyle for themselves. And why not, they have earned it through their hard sweat. Kudos to those who triumphed despite the system!

In all this hype and hoopla surrounding the feats of Abhinav, Sushil and Vijender, there are tough questions that need to be asked. You don’t win by celebrating triumphs; you win by embracing your failures and working on correcting them. If we have started to feel that the dawn in Indian sports has arrived, think again..there’s still a long way to go!

Rampant Corruption and Manipulations with no redressal– Monica Devi might not have been the best bet to win a medal at Olympics but the manner in which she was sidelined from the touring party calls for national shame. A sportsperson dedicates his entire life preparing to get the centerstage. Good or bad, Monica Devi too must have given it her all. But what happened in the end? She was falsely implicated in a doping test and barred from going to Beijing. A probe was set up. Can we expect a fair trial and punishment for the guilty? They have ruined her career for God’s sake!

Living the moment, forgetting thereafter – We have a habit of worshipping the rising sun. It is only when a Sushil Kumar wins a bronze that we remember the long forgotten Khashaba Jadav who brought laurels in 1952. As sportspersons, their responsibility is to perform and as supporters, it should be the nation’s responsibility to take care of them. If you ask me how, question what is done of the 30 rupees we give per 100 rupees we earn? The sports budget in India (for all sports other than cricket of course) is close to Rs. 500 crores. BCCI, for the sake of comparison, budgeted around Rs. 3400 crores in 2006 just to upgrade existing infrastructure at its stadiums!

Ignorant people at the helm – M S Gill, the sports minister of India is one funny fellow. His claim to becoming a sports minister is that he loves watching cricket. Rightly said – “Like democracy has come to be confused with the ‘universal adult franchise’, sports too has come to be associated solely with watching cricket on TV, with millions of Indians graduating every year, without ever setting foot on a playground..” Think about him asking P. Gopichand, India’s biggest Badminton star after Prakash Padukone – “Who are you?” when he came visiting him along with Saina. That is a reflection of the respect that the Government has for sportspersons. We bask in today’s glory and forget the past.

Is it all about the facilities? – Our shooters were our prime prospects for medals. They were gold medalists in major competitions abroad in the last couple of years and were expected to perform. They didn’t even manage to qualify. Sometimes finishing below 40th position. I am sure that the existing system in India is pathetic and they must have found it hard to cope up with it. But can anyone explain how come the same people who won Gold medals in competitions other than Olympics, failed to even qualify? And that too in a span of just about two years. Is that a reflection on our mental strength that falters when it matters the most?

Akhil Kumar will be an inspiration for aspiring boxers in India. He along with his two other mates has given boxing a new identity in India. He defeated the World Champion enroute to his quarter final clash but failed despite putting a valiant attempt. Was it just about the defensive tactical ploy of his opponent or the big occasion that did him in?

Anju Bobby George is well past her prime but still India’s best bet in athletics. She didn’t even manage one correct jump. Was it because the system failed her? Winning or losing is a part and parcel of the game. But how you win or lose is important. We can’t blame the system for everything. Mental conditioning is as important.

Milka Singh was an athlete par excellence. He won everything under the sun but not that one medal that everyone expected him to. He might have missed that by a whisker but we had to wait for 48 long years to have our dreams of a Gold from an individual event get fulfilled. Not taking anything away from the glory that he brought to India, if it was only the system that decided the fate, how did he manage to win Gold in Asiad and Commonwealth in 1958 and 1962? He even came second in all the heats in 1960 Rome Olympics but erred in the final run.

I wouldn’t say that nothing will change now. We probably needed that one push to believe that we too can perform at the World level. Abhinav Bindra’s shooting gold inspired the others to perform better. Three medals might not be a big deal if you look at what some smaller countries have done at the Olympics. But it is like showing light at the end of the tunnel.

May Bhiwani become an inspiration for all small townships in India and every parent bring out the Abhinav Bindra in their kids! And of course, may Mr. Gill be given a good briefing about the people who come visiting him to avoid further embarrassments.

Anyways, today surely is the time for celebrations. After all, we must give our heroes their due!


Krishna said...

Well said...Monica Devi episode is really shattering.

Aditya said...

Leaves sports we are not good at anything when we see ourselves on a global stage. Purely it has to do with climatic conditions prevailing in Indian subcontinent. Such climatic condition leads to both mental and physical lithargy. Thats why we don't stand any where when it comes to performance ( mental and physical both). In other words our gene pool is not as good as our western counter parts. All we can do nullify this natural inefficiency to have foreinger( I vote for britishers here) as our masters. They will definetly take to new glory.

Sensible Garbage said...

@krishna: Some probe has been ordered but not sure if it going to result in anything concrete!

@aditya: quite a reaction this! i hope in jest.

Anonymous said...

While it is a great achievement let's not forget that the conditions gave the Indians an unfair advantage. Who else but the Indians (sympathies to their european/american counterparts) could have shot to a gold, wrestled and boxed to bronzes under the hot, smoggy and dusty conditions that Beijing had to offer.

Sensible Garbage said...

@anon: an advantage here and a disadvantage there balances it out. True the europeans/americans had to fight the dust but the indian atheletes had to fight poor training facilities back home. I regard this as no mean achievement.

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