The Asian Games: A reality check for Indian athletes

Action is heating up at the ongoing Asian Games at Incheon (S Korea), as the Games enter the second phase with the eighth day today. It is tepid going for India, which had slipped to 13th place in the medal rankings at the time of writing this. Indian men’s squash player, Saurav Ghosal let slip a winning lead to settle for silver, to the agony of Indian squash fans. Of course, the fact that Saurav reached the final is creditable, but he must now think deep about having let go the best possible chance for a gold and allowing his Qatari opponent to turn the tables in such a shocking fashion.

After the euphoria of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games comes as a reality check and a wake-up call for athletes and sports followers across the country. Of course, those who are keen followers will know that standards in the Commonwealth Games are much lower than those at the Asian Games. The Asian Games is really the true test before the Rio Olympics takes place in 2016.

While India may have disappointed in certain spheres, it is not all doom and gloom. There have been certain trailblazing performances and pleasant surprises. What is heartening of course, is the attitude. A country, which once would have reached satiety point on the happiness index with a medal or two, is now hungry enough to eye a spot among the first five countries in these mammoth multi-sport events. While there are still a few days to go, that attitude itself shows there is fire and ambition amongst Indians now, who want to be amongst the medal winners at their sport. Fans too, have great expectations.

What India has to do now, in the two years that are left for the Olympics is pick up the pieces, introspect about where they have failed and try their best to plug in any lacuna in the time we have left. Sport is not an exacting formula where athletes can guarantee medals, but they can build on the Asian Games performance to see what they did wrong or right and how they can possibly go better in Rio.

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