Yes indeed, our girls nailed it. The likes of PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar made the entire nation proud with their stellar performances. But, with this being the largest ever Indian contingent of 119 athletes at Rio, we were all more than a little disappointed with the way our athletes performed at the grandest stage of world sports, finishing at the 67th spot. And not to mention, we got trolled by the international community too, because to be brutally honest, we screwed up this time too. There it all started, when one is upset over something, it is human tendency to find other people to blame for it. This fuelled the debate over whether it is the authorities at fault or is it the complacency of the athletes that led to this lacklustre performance of Indian athletes at Rio,2016.
First of all, we all do need to agree that the level of awareness about Olympics has gone a few notches higher over the past few decades. The infrastructure has become better and the athletes are given something to work with, but is this really ENOUGH? A country of 1.2 billion and the world’s largest youth population, certainly has the calibre of producing more than two medal winning athletes, given the right kind of grooming. The kind of money spent by India on sporting infrastructure is a fraction of the amount spent by fellow competitors like US ,UK, China. But, what is more shameful is that the money spent by India per Olympic athlete is less than what a much financially weaker Nigeria or Kenya spends on it’s athletes. It is this desire to perform and excel at the highest level that makes them do unexpectedly well at Olympics throughout the years and the lack of this desire is the reason a country like ours has under-performed throughout the history of the Olympics. Our metros have some decent infrastructure, but most of our talent comes from the rural part of India and most of them are unable to make the cut due to financial liabilities. This issue is of utmost importance and needs to be addressed immediately. We also need to ensure that the infrastructure in place is available to athletes at all times and is not used for any other purpose. Just to elucidate on this, a sporting stadium is not a place for conducting political rallies or protest marches, it is the breeding ground for some of the finest athletes in the country. Also, it is extremely disturbing to know that politicians who accompany athletes to ‘cheer’ them get to travel in business class, whereas those very athletes need to suffer having to travel in economy class over such a long duration of flight. This kind of misallocations need to be stopped if we expect any kind if progress in the near future.
Although, it is seemingly unfair to blame the authorities for everything. Indian athletes over the years have made this infamous reputation of crumbling under pressure. They somehow need to hold on to their nerves in these crunch situations and no amount of sporting infrastructure or training will help in this regard. It has to be their sheer determination and will power which will eventually push them over the line. This Olympics has also been witness to many such instances. A veteran shooter like Abhinav Bindra faltered under pressure, thus resulting in him loosing out on an elusive medal. Seasoned campaigners like Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna cannot complain about the lack of facilities, they were expected to clinch gold but faltered twice in a span of less than 24hours against opponents ranked lower than them, thus lndia’s tennis squad had to return empty handed. After having competed so well against Russia in the women’s archery quarter finals, a score of 6(10) from Laxmi Rani Manjhi is unacceptable and thus resulted in India crashing out of this event too.
No matter how much we deny it, sometime it is just about pure LUCK, and this by far was India’s unluckiest Olympics. We could have easily had a handful of medals had luck been on our side, but that was not to be. Nevertheless, the level of enthusiasm shown by Indian’s in this particular Olympics is unprecedented and this is exactly what we need. We need to get behind our athletes just like we root for our cricketers hence winning greater glory for our country. The level of energy that was felt on the streets for Sindhu’s finals was perhaps second only to the World Cup final at Wankhede in 2011.Private organisations like Olympic Gold Quest and Reliance have really pitched in in order to ensure the welfare of the athletes and giving them the best the possibly could.
To sum this article up in a nutshell, we have certainly made strides in the right direction but will need a dedicated and combined effort from the authority, athletes and the people if we want to see the tricolour flying much more frequently at the Olympics podium. Let’s hope that day is not too far away, JAI HIND.:)