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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Indian agony in the Olympics

The Athens Summer Olympics of 2004 is over. It does bring about a tinge of sadness in everyone because it has provided us with some wonderful sporting achievements. As an Indian though, I am more than relieved that the games are over. At least, we don't have to go through the agony of not being able to finish on the medal podium.

It's true that Jawaharlal Nehru once said that the games should be played for the spirit of participation and not just for the purpose of winning. I do believe that winning is not really everything, but when you represent your country, you must be able to give off your best. Sadly, that was not to be seen among the Indian participants. Many were confined to the fact that they didn't stand a chance of winning and so, never bothered to raise their performances. For instance, our women 4 * 400 relay team went against expectations and qualified for the final, the first time since 1984. This was indeed a very creditable performance. However, they faltered in the finals and ran far below their personal best. I am not blaming them for their performance because their performance was one of the better ones for India. But their example can be used to prove my point.

However, things were not totally bleak for India. Major Rathore held his nerves in the Shooting finals and won the Silver for India (read my previous post on that). Anju Bobby George not only leapt to her personal best of 6.83 metres, but I think she leapt a few notches higher in all our hearts. At least, she gave everything that she had and tried her best. Likewise, there were other notable performances in archery, boxing and tennis. But even if you count all the names, they will just be a handful, which is what really saddens me.

We are one of the populated nations in the world - with our population just next to China. China has ended up with 32 Golds (total of around 100 medals) and we have just 1 to our name. To add salt to our wounds, our Sports minister Shri Suni Dutt has said that India's performance was commendable. That left me quite speechless indeed.

I am sure there will be committees set up to review our performance - reports will be generated, fingers will be pointed, board members will change. But I doubt whether there will be any postive step taken to improve the sports infrastructure and the quality of atheletes in India. India needs a wholesome change in this process and it's time to do it now ... or NEVER !

Bye