Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympics: India can do it

Abhinav Bindra’s Gold Medal at Olympics 2008 is a historic moment for India. He won in a relatively unknown sport called shooting. I would like to congratulate him for doing this for India. We are all proud of him. He has shown us all one thing – yes, India can do it. Some of us had lost hope; and this comes a pleasant surprise.

It is the first gold medal won by an Indian individual (not a team event) and the first one since 1980 – after a span of 28 years.

When India won the last gold medal for Hockey in 1980 Olympics held in Soviet Union, I was a young boy and I don’t recall the event. In the last many years, India has never fared well in any Olympics. At one point of time, PT Usha came close to getting a bronze medal but finished fourth. Time and again, India lost out. Even its much acclaimed Hockey team did not win Gold.

Indians could only look into the past to feel good and I did the same. We recounted the first half of the century when India Hockey team won Gold many a times. Most countries associated the game Hockey with India. We were so good at that sport. Through time, as with many other things in India, we lost our sheen.

I grew up in a small town in Telangana. While growing up we used to play on a platform which acted as a dais for conferences, etc. It was built in 1970s. It was well done and looked solid. The tiles are even and intact – even today. Recently, the officials decided to increase its size on all sides. So, instead of dismantling the old solid structure, they just extended it on all sides. They had to put similar tiles on all sides after they build the platform. It has been only few months now and already the new structure is caving in. The cement is chipping; the tiles are going down forming all kinds of cracks while the old structure seems to stand as ever. The new structure is kaput.

What happened to our construction in the last 30 years? How could we as a nation move from making such a solid structure in 1970s that continue to survive even after 30 years to building things that do not even stand 3 months?

The same thing happened to Indian Hockey. We just lost it like everything else that is endemic to India.

I am not sure if there is any hope for Indian sports as a state program. Also, our obsession with Cricket spells doom for all other sports in this country.

I see Abhinav’s gold as an exception. His case is interesting. It may spell the course for future of our sports. Abhinav comes as a son of a millionaire who could afford training for all these years. Let us understand one thing here – shooting is not a common man’s sports, like hockey, football, volleyball, etc. It is a rich man’s game, like golf.

In future, I believe corporate India and other rich men of India, who got tired of losing out to other countries, will create teams that will win medals for India. They will create private clubs, private teams that will throw out some champions. That is the only option for us. Relying or depending on Indian Government is a foolish exercise. I have been reading reports since I was a young boy about our Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). I have been waiting for it to be inducted in Indian Air force or Navy. That has not happened as yet. I am not sure if it is going to happen in my life time.

It is time for Indian people to do their own stuff, create sports clubs, sponsor them, watch them, telecast them, give sports players big monies, encourage them to compete and excel, and then send them off to Olympics to win us laurels. The best thing Indian Government can do is – lay off. Just let us do our stuff. I will be happy if they don’t intervene to become a spoilsport.


  1. Seemed strange...but this is what I read from a Indian Correspondent's Review..... soon as he entered the press box, a German reporter came and congratulated him...(Bindra's coach is German)..then the talk went on to India in Olympics.. the German quipped...Dont you miss you Hockey team....we certainly do; one thing not to be missed was that.... a Certain Mister Gill did his all to kill the sport in your country..i Hope he spares the Other Sports.....

    Coming from a "Firang" it pinches even more.... :((

  2. Oops: Don't you miss Your* Hockey Team!!

  3. Sujai,

    I agree with you.The amount/time we spend on cricket can be cut to some extent and distributed to some other sports.We shud hava a proper selection committe for all the sports.The IOA is a stupid organisation.Suresh kalmadi want India to organise sports event(Olympics) but never care about the facilities which he is poviding to our players.First lets develop the basic infrasturucture for common games.We are doing good in badminton too but no one is concentrating on this game.Hyderabad has a better infrastructure in badminton when compared to other states but this needs to be followed by other states too.With 1 billion population only 56 people are representing India which shows how bad we are in selection process,providing basic things to our sports.


  4. The talent search and nurturing starts at the bottom. If we do not have proper infrastructure for our kids and in our neighborhoods, how would we let champions bloom?

    Our cities today do not have the space for sports facilities. To play badminton in Mumbai I have to go 5 kms before the first court is found.

    There should be a push at the lower most level - with parents who start to let their kids enjoy sports (other than studies and cricket) and at the systemic level better support for them to do so.

    How to start making a difference at an individual level?

  5. Nice post Sujai. i'll put my take on it in points -

    1) ours is a poor developing nation (full of contradictions), so expecting the govt or public sector to spend loads of money in sports will be thought of as extravagancy (not that corruption or heavy military expenses are justified) - we dont put much funds in science, technology, r & d, etc - a trend which is slowly changing though - sports would be the last thing they can allocate national funds to.

    2) In our country, from early childhood we are fed science & maths textbooks. We have a saying - "padhoge likhoge banoge nawab, kheloge koodoge banoge kharab"
    This mentality needs to be changed - actually rooted out. i hope our generation will achieve it.

    3) Like they did to cricket this year, privatization can be done in all kind of sports. I completely agree with you in this regard. India can definitely produce champions in all games. Maybe reality TV shows can help here..anyways music/dance/acting talent hunt shows have reached saturation. i think we need a Gajendra Singh for sports as well.

    4) Yes. India can do it. High time it starts...n then i hear they are including chess from 2016 in olympics..we'll be definitely much better off then :-)

  6. // The best thing Indian Government can do is – lay off. Just let us do our stuff. I will be happy if they don’t intervene to become a spoilsport. //
    Well said. Not only the sports ministry, every ministry has failed, the government-the system as such- has failed. As you said, it would be better if people are given right to choose indian government or form their own small governments.
    The present system did not evolve from us, not even the nationalism definition came from us, everything including our identity as Indians were defined/given by the British; and it is no wonder they failed.

  7. We know very well that the sports system is broken in India. And our own Government is to be blamed. Why don't any of the private companies/corporations sponsor athletes and make them wear sports apparel with their logo on it and make them excel? The athlete gets money and the company gets ads.

    Cricket progressed not because of our government but inspite of our government. Cricket flourished due to sponsorships from private companies/corporations.

  8. India will be considered a serious sporting nation only when a mssive overhaul of the present system takes place which lays a greater emphasis on provision of facilities at the grassroot level. Until then we have to be content with the performance of a few people who have the resources to back up their talent.


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