Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rio Olympics Games, Unforgettable Lessons


Rio Olympic games is over. Final medal hope, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, has fallen. Indian medal tally at the end of Rio Olympic games remain one silver and one bronze. Two medals from a country of 1.2 billion people that  fielded 120 participants, is far too few. As Indians we are used to poor show in sports events, barring may be cricket. But hopes of  improving medal tally  post London Olympic games looked realistic. It was felt that while we may not do very well in track and field, aquatic and gymnastic events, we may earn a few medals in tennis, badminton, archery, shooting, wrestling and boxing. We got a silver in badminton, one bronze in wrestling. We did not leave a mark in other events, with the exception of Abhinav Bindra in shooting and Dipa Karmakar in gymnastics.  



Indian sports administrators have been blamed for poor show of Indian Olympic contingent in Rio games. May be rightly so. Most sports administrators lack vision and integrity. Many administrators join sports bodies for power and perks. Administrators lack vision and do little to create sports facilities and benefit sports persons. If anything, sports management in India fail to deliver sports people their legitimate due. In fact, the system forces sports men/women to beg for their right. But to be fair in sports where we had potential, right players were selected. Players had international exposure.  Players had international ranking. Several players were professionals. Yet we were not successful. Many players crumbled under pressure of expectation. May be mental toughness is a problem. As a nation we must train our sports people to withstand pressure.

Knowledgeable people believe that India is changing. More and more people are taking interest in sports. Young Indians want Indian athletes on podium. Success of Dipa Karmakar has aroused interest in gymnastics. I read in news paper a kid had dragged his mother to meet Dipa Karmakar in Nehru Stadium in Delhi. May be young boy will be enthused enough to take up gymnastics as a sports. May be this is an intangible benefit of Olympic success. May be this will sow the seed of success in future olympics for the country. May be this is harbinger of hope. 

It is often said that in India parents do not want to let their kids take up sports seriously. To be fair, in India a stable job after completing education remains major priority for most families. We hear  stories  how athletes participating in Olympics or other competitive sports lack job opportunity.  Some sell snacks by road side,  some are forced to take up odd jobs, some other sell their sports gear to support their families. Unless, parents see a viable career opportunity after doing sports, they are unlikely to encourage kids to take up sports. A prime example being Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI). Despite all ills plaguing BCCI, the organisation has managed to create a mechanism that creates and/or improves earning potential of cricketers. Parents of budding cricketers now see a career prospect for their kids.  I think similar approach is needed for other sports. 

Prize money is flowing in the direction of award winning athletes. It is said that P V Sindhu may get more than 10 crores in prize money. Similarly, prize money has flown in the direction of Sakshi Malik. Yet, coach Gopichand had to mortgage his house to raise fund to create an academy for badminton players. Experts believe there should be many more such academies all over the country. Rewarding medal earning player is good. It may entice the young people to take up sports. Could a portion of this money not been spent in creating facilities that creates more Sindhu and Sakshi? 

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