After the country’s best-ever haul of six medals at the just-concluded London Olympics, the Government has set the goal much higher and the target for the 2020 Games is 25 medals.
“In the 2020 Games (at a venue yet to be decided), we have set a target of 25 medals,” Sports Minister Ajay Maken said on Saturday, adding that on-field performance at the planet’s greatest sports spectacle is linked to the economic progress of the country.
“The Olympic medals are co-related with the country’s economic growth, if you see our Olympic history in the last 100 years and the total medals (won),” said Mr. Maken, who was in Mumbai in connection with “Youth Parliament”, an initative of Congress MP Milind Deora.
“If you see the last two Olympics, we have got a total of nine medals. And all these medals we have bagged are in individual events. Before this in our 100-year Olympic history, we got only two individual medals. And within four years, we have got nine medals,” he explained.
He was referring to the individual medals won by Leander Paes (bronze in tennis men’s singles) and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (silver in men’s shooting double trap) in the Atlanta and Athens Games of 1996 and 2004 respectively.
Later, the country struck it rich with a three-medal haul in 2008 at Beijing, including the pioneering men’s 10m air rifle shooting gold won by Abhinav Bindra.
“Our rank (medal standing) was 55 (in London), but if you compare it with per capita income and human development index, then our human development index is around 130 and the per capita income is also at the same level.
“Despite this we are at 55. If we had got a gold medal out of these six in the London Games, our rank would have been around 30. The progress we have made in the last four years, we need to keep that in mind and plan for future,” he said.
India won two silvers and four bronze medals in the London Games that concluded on August 12.
Mr. Maken said the Government had invested close to Rs 200 crore last year for the quadrennial sports extravaganza which resulted in 81 Indian sportspersons qualifying for the London Games and assured that the Ministry will continue to invest in sports.
“For the London Olympic Games, we selected 732 core probables in April last year. We gave the name Opex 2012. For these 732 core probables, we have, 121 Indian coaches, 29 foreign coaches were made available. We had 65 support staff of which four were foreigners. They made 146 foreign visits.
“We spent Rs 200 crore in the last one year on athletes. The result was for the first time 81 players qualified. Never had so many players qualified in our history. P.V. Sindhu beat the Olympic gold medallist yesterday. Our players are scaling new heights. We will keep investing and reach new heights,” the Minister maintained.
Sindhu, a rising Indian shuttler, stunned London Olympics gold medallist Li Xuerui of China in the women’s singles quarterfinals of the Li Ning China Masters Super Series badminton tournament yesterday before bowing out on Saturday to another host country shuttler Jiang Yanjiao, losing in three games.