TLI Opinion: India's Olympic Performance - A Reason To Celebrate And Introspect
The Olympics is over and the parades have started, India welcomed back their Olympic heroes with huge love and affection. Even among the other athletes who did not reach the podiums could not be faulted for their efforts, anyone who had seen the games can only feel proud of their hard work and effort. Then we have the medal winner Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu and also with a special mention to Dipa Karmakar who won more than many hearts for her spirited performance that fetched her 4th place.
Among the others who came close to a podium finish includes
1. Mixed Doubles: Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna lost the bronze medal playoffs to Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic.
2. Abhinav Bindra finished 4th in the finals in the 10m Air rifle.
3. Lalita Babar finished 10th in final in the Women’s 3000m steeplechase.
4. Indian Women Archery team lost in the quarterfinals.
5. Sathish Sivalingam finished 11th in men’s 77kg in men’s weightlifting.
A Sneak peak into the medals table
India with one silver and one bronze ranked 67th in the medal table. To put things in perspective, let us look at some countries which finished ahead of India.
China has one thing which can be compared to India i.e., population. It finished fourth in the table and it was reported that Chinese performance at the Rio Olympics was considered as a flop show by the Chinese media.
Brazil with all the challenges with respect to economy and poverty finished 13th.
Kenya with a low Life expectancy at birth (45.2 in 2002) and with an HDI rank of 148 finished 15th in the medals tally.
Countries like Venezuela (whose economy is spiralling out of control with high inflation), island nations (Singapore, Fiji, Bahamas, Bahrain, Cuba), war-torn nations (Kosovo), sanctioned countries (Iran ranked 25, North Korea ranked 34), poor African nations ( Ethiopia) and a host of other small countries finished above India. Some questions do arise based on the above numbers.
Do these countries take sports more seriously?
Do these countries have a better talent pool than India?
Should we take Olympics seriously and chart out a plan to win more medals in the coming Olympics?
Can large investments in sports be accommodated within our budget?
Or can the government support private initiatives like that of Gopichand to bring out talents in sports?
This and more questions should be raised by concerned citizens and stakeholders and create a vision for future of sports in India. India as a nation has its reasons to celebrate and its reasons to introspect. While the citizens of the country are very passionate to know about what as a country we have achieved in the global stage, there is lack of will at a policy level on the future course of sports in India. There are barely any sponsors and viewers for many of the games in India. The amount of money doled out by various governments for winners of games in short notice is pretty amazing given the miserly investments the governments allocate towards sports and what more the most followed game in India does not even feature in the Olympics i.e., Cricket. Both governments and citizens have to encourage other games to flourish economically for more talents to take the leap towards sports. It is what we cheer for and what we invest on that will define the future of sports in India. The onus in on all of us.