It is really sad that the Indian hockey team finished last in the London Olympics. For years, hockey was our only hope of an Olympic gold medal. I was in college when the Indian team lost to Pakistan in 1972, and I remember I wept at the loss. Now, 40 years later, I am not overcome by any such emotion. The critics in the media lose no time hounding all concerned with the sport for the poor show. We prove time and again that, as a nation, we overreact on winning and losing.
The need of the hour is to address the root causes. Schools and colleges should give more importance to sports — at least provide a proper playground. Talent should be spotted at a young age and encouraged. If we are honest about these, India will find itself competing with others sooner than later. Finally, let us be sympathetic to our players who did their best.
The dismal show of India at the biggest games was on expected lines. Small countries which are no more than dots or tiny patches on the world map excelled and put up a great show compared to us. Sportspersons alone cannot be blamed for our disastrous performance.
Sports administrators — politicians who do not have the vision to create the necessary infrastructure and environment for sportspersons to excel — are largely to blame. Our country will have to wait for many more years to achieve a respectable position at the Olympics.
It is true that a country with a billion people has not done well at the Olympics. It is also true that smaller countries like Jamaica won gold medals while India couldn’t manage even one gold medal. But it is equally important to appreciate that India has progressed in sports; it sent a record number of athletes to London and recorded the best ever performance. We also need to understand that there are not many takers for less attractive sports in our country — one more reason why India did not have participants in sports like gymnastics. Indian hockey’s glorious past has been erased and this may happen with other sports too if they are not given importance.
Many sports like kabaddi, chess and cricket, in which India has more chances of winning, are not included in Olympics whereas countries like the U.S. which are good at athletics — major Olympic events — grab the medals. Instead of blaming out sportspersons, we should focus on building talent in Olympic events rather than excel in a few sports.
Adithya L. Narayanan,