A sporting powerhouse by Olympics 2024 is a possibility Year 2024: India is one of the top medal-earning nations at the Olympics.
We would all love to read this headline in 2024, if not before.
So, is it possible that a nation obsessed with one sport — and with over 90% of money going to it — will rise above its current levels and take off to a yet-undiscovered world of sport? Yes, it is!
But as all major successes have proven, India need to have a plan — and a commitment to stick to the plan.
Sports in our country have been hampered by lack of focus as well as unprofessional and regressive attitude of the respective office bearers, not to forget lack of infrastructure and apathetic outlook of most of the countrymen towards sport as a profession — a means of earning livelihood.
India and Indians have to give sports as much importance as has been given to defence, economic reforms and IT sectors in the past, and it has borne the fruits as desired.
A policy needs to be devised that makes sports an essential part of school curriculum with equal weightage as other subjects, and a government supported, public or private-public development plan for sports infrastructure development.
The facilities must be within common-man’s reach, and a world-class coaching system with multiple facilities that are available for potential top athletes.
Sports needs to be strengthened at the grassroots, with facilities and support mechanism ready for those who need it. This will propel interest and competition at the base level, leading to superior athletes.
With right infrastructure, coaching and scientific nutrition plan, the opportunity exists to give all these people a fighting chance against international opponents.
We must not forget that all that is created needs to be maintained.
The sports infrastructure will need to be maintained so that it is usable through its defined life. It is similar to maintaining our cars so that they function, and for long.
Once we have better-trained athletes, it’s critical that they are tested for their performance and international exposure is a must for them, with a prescribed number of events to participate in.
The exposure will help raise standards within the country and make it possible for Indians to push themselves to strive better.
All this may not be simple to do overnight, hence to start with the sports bodies needs to have professionals as office bearers with zero political intervention.
Each office bearer across every function — as defined in a professional organisation — will also work towards a plan and will be driven by key performance areas and key result areas. They will be appraised for results produced.
It’s like a gardener tending and providing enough of water and nutrition to a sapling so that it provides fruit.
Holding international events in the country will also bolster the exposure of these sports to Indians,and this becomes an important cog-of-the-wheel as the nation starts liking and supporting a sport and athlete therein.
For all the negativity around Commonwealth Games 2010, the reality is that there is every possibility for India becoming a sporting powerhouse.
Like in a clock that has many components and wheels that work with each other to ensure its function, sports will need a set of people who set the systems and government to bring together people who are interested in seeing the real progress of the country in sports. Mahesh Ranka
General Manager, RelayWorldWide*Sports practice of Publicis Groupe
Hats off to all participants and spectators — we shall overcome The Indian athletes have been a saVing grace for XIX Commonwealth Games.
India winning a record number of medals is not a surprise for me, but the number of medals is a pleasant reminder that our athletes are as good as our scientists, industrialists and techies.
India has some of the world’s best shooters, shuttlers, wrestlers, boxers and archers, who have won gold medals on the world stage.
Some of them are world record holders, some are world champions and others are world championship medallists. A
nd many more like our table tennis players, tennis players are ranked in the top 5 or 10 of the world, Asia or Commonwealth.
And then are likes of our hockey players, who thrive in adversity, as do our track and field athletes.
India finished fourth at the Melbourne Games and won just one short of 50 medals.
That number has been doubled, and India could be second on the medal list, behind Australia and ahead of England and Canada.
On the eve of the XIX Commonwealth Games, the only aspect of Games left untouched was the athletes.
Even when the topic did crop up, the discussion usually
veered around the doping and selection scandals.
And when it came to the foreign athletes, it was usually about who was not coming, rather than who was.
That put alongside issues relating to mismanagement and corruption — of which there obviously was quite a bit — meant that public at large started believing that athletes too were going to be a damp squib.
These were the Games that till the last minute were beset with empty stadia and tickets that seemed to have disappeared into thin air.
Tickets, the officials say, have been ‘sold out’, but what the people got to see on TV was empty seats.
The medals would only have been marginally less even if all the stars — only a handful of sure-shot medal hopes were actually missing — were present in Delhi.
It is well-known that host countries do well, as compared to their past records, because of a variety of reasons: ranging from home advantage, which unfortunately in this case was reduced to a minimum on account of late completion of venues, crowd support, of which there was a lot even from empty stadia, and, above all, the motivation of the athletes while competing at home.
At least two gold medallists were upset at not being the focus because of media’s obsession with everything ‘not sport’ that they were ‘even more motivated’ to do well and win a gold medal!
Hats off to the likes of Gagan Narang, who set aside the slight of being overlooked for Khel Ratna, or Ashish Kumar the gymnast who gave us a historic medal, or the shuttling superstar Saina Nehwal, or the archery trio, or Somdev Devvarman, who showed us there is life beyond Leander and Mahesh. Don’t forget Krishno
Poonia or women’s 4 x 400-m relay team, nor weightlifters nor boxers.
Don’t forget any of the 790-odd who wore India’s colours or their coaches and families.
Together they made us proud over the last week and gave us the dream that we can one day be a sporting superpower.
When the dust settles and the last medal has been awarded, my only wish is that the number is 99.
For the 100th, one ought to be collectively awarded to the fans who came to the stadium against all odds and to those who wanted to but could not because some silly guys sold the tickets to a raddiwala.
Senior Sports Writer
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