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August 25, 2016 / subramanyam

2 @ 1.2


We had only 2 medals at the 2016 Olympics @ Rio, A silver and a Bronze.  Well, that is not a great performance by any measure.  Many people (particularly journalists from other nations) are happily taking a dig at the Indians for this.

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We have our own commentators too, who are priding themselves by taking a cynical stand against their fellow countrymen.

To me India’s performance at Rio was not a very bad performance at all.  Yes,  we are a nation with 1.2 billion people but our sports culture is just taking shape.

I am a 32 year old and for many people in my generation sports has never been a career option.  Sports periods in schools meant playing some games that would not get us hurt.  In my generation the race was always to have good numbers, do a medicine or an engineering, get a well paid job and then escape the troubles and tribulations of either middle class / poverty.

My parents made me focus on my numbers and grades, I think millions of Indian Parents would have done the same in that era.  Why did they do it ? Why did they not encourage their wards to become sports personalities ?

The answer lies in the way they experienced life.  Many of them had trouble getting a proper education, many of them had to shelve their dreams because of poverty, many of them had to face innumerable hardships just because they did not have the resources to make it big.  Will such a parent take risk and push his kid towards sports where the risk of losing is very high?  If such a parent pushes his ward towards studies and nothing else is it his/her fault ? — to me the answer is a big NO.  For a man who had to feed 4 mouths back home , Olympics is just a big rather too big luxury to afford. These people might have not just known that a career exists outside the arena of studies.

I think this also explains the 16 year medal drought(1980-1996) that this nation had at the Olympics. The economic prudence that started in the 90’s  did bring an attitudinal shift.

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We must celebrate the victories of Indian players wildly.

We see that many parents are actually investing in sports and that is steadily bringing in good results in the country.  We see world champions emerge in each sport and slowly but steadily we are having a good run at the international events. This is because the parents are seeing a future and are investing in this. In a democratic nation it takes time to get this attitudinal shift and we are witnessing it now.

For instance : We had a Deepa Karmakar who scripted magic in this Olympics, the Indian mens Hockey Team  advanced to the next round for the first time after 1980, Bindra missed  the medal by  whisker, Jeetu Rai had a bad run this time around but we need acknowledge the fact that he was the world champion till a few days ago, If only Saina did not bow out with an injury we would have had another medal for sure, any one who saw Vishal Krishnan’s quarter’s bout would know that we have a champion in the making… The list is endless, we have had 119 athletes who qualified for the games and that in itself is a huge achievement for a nation whose sports culture started less than 20 years ago.

As the time progresses we will have more medals, till then, yes we will have to celebrate the wins of our young men and women wildly.  That’s the best way to attract young talent into these games.  If the world has a problem with our celebration , well, it is their problem not ours.

 

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