For once, India’s progress on a cricket tour was reduced to secondary status while the Olympics fever swept the nation. Only fair, considering nothing is bigger in sport than the Olympics.
Cricket and football World Cups have a special kind of mass following, but the Olympics and the nationalistic fervour they arouse, is unmatched and not to be underestimated.
London 2012 has been India’s best Olympics ever although a gold medal-winning performance has not been achieved yet. India has miles to go before it is called a sporting nation. What better time than now to start dreaming, doing and delivering now? Sporting apathy has been going on for too long and each tale seems to be sadder than the other. A few desks away from where I work sits a karate black belt.
She is still a martial artiste while a lot of her sporting friends have given up. Let her tell you why: “A few years ago, some of us were picked for the World Karate Games in Cyprus. We started training 18 months before the event. Each of us started collecting our funds to meet out ticket expenses. We encountered a huge hurdle when it came to getting our visas because of the warring factions in the sport. We didn’t make it and many of my friends just left the sport. To say we were fed up and disillusioned is a an understatement.”
The Olympic Gold Quest and Mittal Champions Trust have done significant work towards encouraging our sports persons. The cleaning up of the grassroots system must be tackled with extraordinary alacrity. To be fair, there has been an increase in awareness of India’s sporting needs, but unfortunately it appears miniscule considering the vastness of the sporting canvas and the sheer numbers in our land.
Our athletes need to feel good even if they lose out in their respective arenas. Shooter Joydeep Karmakar came fourth in the 50m rifle final, but have we heard anyone from his state of Bengal offering him a consolation reward? Karmakar knows that one has to lose to win, but if someone important tells him that on a public forum, the adage will sit better on him.
In Indian Olympic history, Karmakar is on the same page as athletes Milkha Singh (fourth in Rome, 1960) and P T Usha (fourth in LA, 1984). Karmakar is confident that his day of Olympic glory will come. Bless him!
Vikas Gowda found the competition in the discus throw final too hot to handle. But he did well enough to stand a chance — however remote — for a medal on the last day of his competition is creditable. Gowda must get the help and encouragement to find his wherewithal to fight again.
MC Mary Kom’s defeat yesterday was a heartbreaker. Sure, she will be remembered as a bronze winner when gold was there for the taking. She’ll not compete in Brazil 2016, but let’s not forget that she is a five-time world champion.
India’s triumphs and disappointments must be used as a catalyst to create a true sporting culture.
And finally, kudos to our cricket team for their emphatic success during the limited overs series in Sri Lanka. Many teams, including the redoubtable Australians have reckoned that the Emerald Isles is one of the hardest places to win. Dhoni’s men have triumphed in Sri Lanka more often in the recent past than World No 1 Australia. And although the regularity of encounters goes in favour of India, this is no mean achievement.
Clayton Murzello is MiD DAY’s Group Sports Editor