Since I started watching sports on TV I always loved to watch Olympics, for me, it is a symbol of ultimate human struggle and triumph symbolized in the form of sports. We get to witness epic struggles and ultimate triumphs, old records are broken and new records are set.Sometimes it is enthralling to watch and sometimes it is heartbreaking to witness an athlete missing a medal by a whisker. Today, I have a luxury of rooting for two countries in Olympics (India and USA), but I never watched Olympics for supporting any one country. For me, it was fun to watch spectacular performances of athletes all over the world. Maybe, I developed this attitude as India rarely used to win any medal in Olympics, there were some like P T Usha who came very close to winning a medal but there was nothing worthy of mention.
India started participating in Olympics in 1900, since 1920 they are sending their players regularly to Olympic games. India’s first Individual Gold medal came in 2008, by a shooter Abhinav Bindra. Last Olympic games (2012) was the most successful event so far when India won six medals, two silver, and four bronze. India has won total 28 medals in Olympics so far (out of which nine are gold, eight for field hockey and just one individual gold), not a spectacular achievement for one of the most populous countries of the world. Just for the sake of comparison, we can compare India with the most decorated Olympian in history, Michael Phelps of USA has also won 28 medals in just four Olympics, and 23 of them are gold medals! What can be the reason that such a big country can not match the achievement of an individual? Definitely, large population or lack of resources and money cannot be the only factors responsible for this, because even countries more populated than India (China) or poorer than India (like Kenya, Ethiopia or North Korea) also win medals at Olympics consistently. It is also not true that Indians are not passionate about any sports, India is considered as a superpower in cricket, it is one of the most lucrative markets for this game and Indian Premier League (IPL) is the most successful league for cricket all over the world. Is cricket responsible for killing all other sports? Many love to blame dominance of cricket for pathetic infrastructure for all other sports, but then how come all other sports flourish in countries like USA where basketball, baseball, and American football dominate so much? India even has a dedicated sports ministry to look after countries sports activity, I don’t think in US there is even a position called the secretary of sports.
The major difference I found between both countries is that in US kids start playing competitive sports at very early age and there are professional private facilities available to them for almost any sport. Sports is a part of culture as well as school curriculum, and most kids are either directly or indirectly involved with some sports activity. For many sports earlier you start better it is, in India many primary and middle school don’t even have their own playground, playing is often considered as a waste of time. I remember that we used to get punished if my dad caught us playing cricket instead of studying,which according to him was much more essential activity than playing any game. I don’t think my dad was an exception as many of my other friends also used to get a similar treatment.
During every Olympic games, a question pops up that how come country of more than billion people cannot produce even few Olympic gold medalists? It is fiercely debated, cricket and government are blamed, but if some athletes win any medals because of their own hard work and efforts they are hailed as heroes and saviors, they are showered with gifts and rewards from all over the country and everything else is forgotten until next Olympic games. This is going on for last so many years, so regularly that this activity has become a regular drill for many Indians and they all perform so mechanically. Whether it is Sindhu or Sakshi or Abhinav or Sushil, they all won their medals, not because of infrastructure and sports culture, but despite that. They defied all odds against them and triumphed at international level, but how long a country of more than billion people can depend on the efforts few brave individuals to bring ultimate recognition in sports? During every Olympics entire country expects some miracle to happen and at least one of their athlete wins some medals. If USA can do it, China can do it, Brazil can do it, why not India? Something needs to change if India wants’s to compete with these countries in the medal count, sports should become a regular activity, only then talent can be recognized at an early stage and can be groomed to compete at intensely competitive international level. Lots of perseverance, dedication, and hard work is required to achieve success at international level in any field and sports is not an exception. Let’s hope that achievements of Sindhu and Sakshi act as a wake-up call and not as an opium dose which makes entire country high and forgets about ground realities. Let’s celebrate their achievements with an intention of making it a regular event, not just a pleasant surprise for which entire country depends to celebrate.
Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.