The news that golden girl P.T. Usha broke down after she was denied a decent accommodation during the National Open Athletics Meet in Bhopal came as a shock. Our athletes put in tremendous efforts to bring us glory. Unlike our politicians, they do not clamour for self-gratification. Can we imagine our cricketers playing a match in a city where there is no five-star accommodation? Just as we feel proud when our players bring us laurels, we should feel ashamed when they are not given the honour and respect due to them.
All sports-loving Indians should condemn the treatment meted out to Usha. But the athlete breaking down for not getting a decent accommodation was too much. She is rich by Indian standards and could have booked a room in a good hotel.
The news of the humiliation of our one-time sprint queen does not shock anyone who is familiar with the ways of our government. Had a cricketer who had played for India even 50 years ago gone to Bhopal, he would have received a hero’s welcome. Usha is only an athlete. But for her over-reaction and the exaggerated media reports, she would not have received any attention. The lessons our sportspersons need to learn from the episode is: Do not depend on your past glories and expect any special treatment. If you want to attend sports meets, get proper invites and confirm your travel and stay arrangements in advance. Above all, try to be thick-skinned.