We were on top of the world when the Indian medals tally read 38-27-36 at the completion of the Commonwealth Games 2010. It is absolutely right to say that our athletes gave it their 100% and won at such a big stage despite the odds. The Games have surely dismantled notions about India not being capable of a sports-superpower status in the future.
However, the Asian Games 2010 are not held in the distant future, but just a few months away from the CWG. Now, the thing is that our over enthusiastic patriots need to realize is that the results of CWG cannot be emulated on ‘bigger’ sports events just as yet because the big stage throws even bigger challenges. Our shooters are world-class no doubt, but we need to know that the mere presence of the world-class factor does not guarantee of a world-beating score.
Same goes for other disciplines where we did spectacularly well during the Delhi Games. The Asiad 2010 has a different set of opponents and we don’t have to
compete only against the former parts of the British Empire but take on world heavyweights like China, Korea and Japan. These three nations consist of a race of people who are disciplined by nature and hard work flows through their veins rather than rhetoric.
If we try to compare with our performance in the Doha Asiad 2006, our medals tally was 10 -17 -26 that got us the eighth position overall in the competition. Not bad, and this is the score we have to go beyond this time around, even if it is by 30%. Interestingly, all the seven other teams that finished above us in the 2006 edition were those which are not a part of the CWG (China, South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Iran and Uzbekistan).
The difference becomes starker when we look at the Beijing Olympics where our tally was a record breaking (and dismal) 1-0-2. Just having potential athletes won’t do, we need to urgently accelerate the development in the sports sector that has been given a push by the Delhi Games and preferably host an Asian Games as soon as possible in order to fasten the machinery to achieve bigger sports success.
With the perception of sports as a career fast changing in middle-class India, it is also the parents’ responsibility to get their children playing games they enjoy and exposing them to newer sports rather than merely preparing them for the rat race of adulthood. Who knows, the next tennis star, kayaking champion or breathtaking gymnast might be in our own backyard being beaten up for not getting an A+ in Physics!
Another thing that the sports administrators need to pick up is the promotion of Olympic sports at the grassroots so that future medals can come from an array of events rather than just banking on some traditional powers. Building on the strength and strengthening the weakness is the way forward.
This Asiad has Korean archers, Chinese, Singaporean and Indonesian shuttlers and Iranian wrestlers to give a tough time to our stars. A lot of effort has been put into their training and I’m sure they are giving their 100% for a win, but it is up to the sports bodies and an athletes’ immediate circle of influence, and the supporters and sponsors on the larger to make sure that their 100% is better than the rest.
Quality will improve only upon improving competition, exposure and modern training. We have the brawn, let’s work-up the brain too for an emphatic global presence.
Till we execute this rather boring rhetoric into action, we are not even worth of dreaming of winning 1000 gold medals in Asiad like China or re-affirming gold supremacy in the Olympics by USA.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)