Image Source: bhaskar
Next year, the Rio Olympics are going to take place, and we all are aware of that. When the games will begin, we will expect the athletes representing our nation to bring home a medal. However, we don’t seem to care much about our athletes apart from the few weeks when the Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games take place. This is most prominent in the case of the athletes participating in the track and field events. And this insensitive and unsupportive attitude of the society, the government and even the media has resulted in the ruining of the careers of several of them, possibly depriving India of medals on the international stage.
Lack of financial support has forced yet another athlete, Pushpa Gupta, a 21-year-old national-level shooter, to give up her dreams and look for an alternative employment. It is a matter of shame that she is now selling noodles on the roadside in order to earn her daily livelihood. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that she hangs her hard-won medals on the cart in order to attract the attention of customers.
“I had joined college in 2013 and it was there that I discovered that I have skills in shooting. I joined the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and it supported me financially. I represented Gujarat in the sport as well. Then I started getting interest in the sport,” Pushpa Gupta.
The NCC was funding her training for the shooting. But after the NCC course got over, she could not afford it as it was too expensive for her family.
“After support from the NCC ended, my father told me to discontinue with the sport and start some business in order to earn living. Since then we have been selling noodles on this lorry and now it has over been one year,” she added.
She says it has been one and a half year since she handled a rifle in her hands.
Few weeks back, we also the heartening story of a former National Gold medal winning boxer forced to work as a garbage collector to earn his livelihood. And these are just few of many of such stories. Before we compare our athletes with those from China or U.S in major international tournaments, we should also realize the difference in assistance they receive from the society and the government.
It is important to realize that the athletes don’t need rewards when they win medals. Better sporting infrastructure and financial support is what is required if we are to genuinely expect them to bring laurels to the country.