The way the sports in our country is governed has often come under severe criticism, but the London Olympics bronze medallist shooter Gagan Narang today said “nowhere in world sports is encouraged as it is done in India“.
The shooter, however, called for concerted efforts to take the sports in the country to the higher level.
“Problems are everywhere. An athlete has to look at what he can do best, fault finding will not help him achieve his goal. Efforts are being made. The only thing is that we need to build on these efforts. There is a need for concerted effort. The support should come right from the beginning, through parents, through the education system...,” Narang said during the India Today conclave here.
Adding that the number of people taking up sports as a prospective career are limited in our country, Narang said there was a need to develop “sporting culture“.
“How many of our shooters are in the top level? If you see just 7,000 to 10,000 are in that bracket and we have just have 20,000 shooters in all. If we can win four medals out of this number, we definitely have chance to win more medals if this figure reaches 100,000. Same is with the other sports. A sporting culture needs to be developed in the country,” he said.
Silver medallist grappler Sushil endorsed Narang’s views.
“After the Beijing Games, there has been a shift in the athletes’ way of thinking. First they used to participate in the Olympics just for the sake of being called the Olympians. But that mindset has now changed. We went to the Olympics with an aim to win medals and if you see our athletes have performed well in London. Joydeep Karmakar finished fourth, Krishna Poonia made it to the finals,” Sushil insisted.
He added that all the Olympians are happy with the way they have been treated after their return and are looking improve upon their performance in the next Olympics.
“Sports ministry has shown great interest; Ajay Maken has been in touch with all the athletes. The tally will definitely improve in Rio de Janeiro,” the grappler insisted.
Narang, meanwhile, said it will no be right thing to compare India with some of the other countries, but pointed that they need to evolve as a sporting nation.
“It will be incorrect to compare India with other countries like China or the United States. They have a system in place. People say China has the Great Wall, but we need to build a wall which is higher than the Chinese,” he said.
The shooter added that the biggest motivation comes from within and added that it is the self belief that keeps an athlete going.
”... the real inspiration comes from within. It is the self belief that keeps you going. It is not about how you hit but it is about how fast you can get up,” he said.
Asked about his statement that he has been inspired by the American president Barack Obama, Narang said it was coincidence that he set the world record on the same day in November 2008 when Obama became the president.
He added that it were tense last few minutes at the London Games before he clinched the bronze.
“Demons of Beijing Games were dancing on my head. The final 10 minutes were really difficult. I was thinking about the ordeal in next four years and there I was,” he said.
The London Olympics silver medallist marksman and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee, Vijay Kumar pointed that it was just the “beginning of the journey”.
He said that the army has been the foundation of his success and urged the country’s youngsters to be a part of the uniformed men. However, he cautioned them about the hardships of the army life.
“Army is the foundation of my success. I tried my hands at varied sports including boxing. It was in 2003, when I joined the army that I took to shooting,” he said.
Asked how his life has changed after the Games, Vijay Kumar said earlier nobody knew him, but people have started to recognise him now.
However, the Himachal Pradesh lad said it was very “embarrassing” when somebody called him in London after the event, congratulated him and then asked him in which discipline he has won the medal.
Grappler Yogeshwar Dutt, who was jointly conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna along with Vijay Kumar, said, “Life would have been difficult without a medal at the London Games.”