India at Tokyo 2020: A Roadmap
With the curtains coming down on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it’s time to look back at the performance of India over the past two weeks or so. To put it baldly, India finished 67th in the medal tally wining one silver and one bronze medal. Quite a huge disappointment for a country with a population of around 1.3 billion people! After all the initial hype and hoopla about sending the largest ever delegation and the anticipatory fizz about the nation bettering its last Olympic record (its best ever) of six medals had died down, it was soon evident that our performance would be pretty underwhelming to say the least. Only a handful of individuals fought to the very end for a podium finish and if it were not for the talented and lion-hearted Sakshi Malik and P.V. Sindhu who put up a bravura performance to finish with a bronze and a silver medal respectively, we would be returning home empty-handed. Other stellar performances for India include Dipa Karmakar (especially her Produnova vault that so adored her to all Indians) who missed the bronze medal by a whisker in the Artistic Gymnastics category, Abhinav Bindra who finished fourth in his individual 10 meter air rifle event, Kidambi Srikanth who went down fighting to Li Dan in the quarter finals of the men’s badminton, Lalita Babar who finished 10th in the finals of the Women’s 3000 metre steeplechase and the eighteen year-old youngster, Aditi Ashok, who came up with a tremendous show in the women’s individual golf event.
So, what went wrong? Already, the knives have begun to be sharpened, the blame is being passed and mud-slinging is at an all-time low. Pundits have been commenting enthusiastically in the media about what should have been done to avoid the debacle. But it is more a time for introspection and action. Do we, as a nation which spends $0.005 per head on sports each day against $0.30 for the U.S.A., deserve better? Indians religiously follow cricket throughout the year but apart from that, they hardly seem interested in other sports and more importantly, are quite content in letting their children settle for cushy jobs rather than allowing them to go through the grind and rigour that is needed to achieve success in sports at the international level. Should sports be introduced in the school curriculum? Should there be more private investment of sports in the country? Should the government play a more pro-active role in spreading awareness regarding sports in the country? Watch this space to find out more as IFN experts seek a solution to this malaise and chalk out a roadmap for the next Olympics to be held in Totyo, 2020.