Showing posts with label Olympic Gold Quest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olympic Gold Quest. Show all posts

Monday, August 06, 2012

Badminton Racket [219/365]

Days after my prediction about Lee, Hesh and Sania came true, Saina has given us a cause to cheer.

After winning the bronze in a match that was well fought, Saina truly is the embodiment of a new era in Indian sports. She may not have the curves of a Sania but today's match proved that she is truly a world class athlete. But again, she is not a one match wonder and has struggled through the ranks in full public view.

Winning this medal wouldn't have come as a surprise to her, but knowing the kind of sportsperson she is, I am quite sure she would have liked the gold much better. The diminutive shuttler is of a new breed of sportspeople who have their head firmly on their shoulders.

Seven days into the Games, we stand 45th in the medal tally with 3 medals. Considering how we got only one medal and none until a few games ago, this is incredible improvement. Lest we rest, and the law of averages continue to work in our favor, we could try and send a larger contingent the next time.

And talking about contingents, China had her badminton players being disqualified before of irrefutable evidence of foul play and 'playing against the Olympic spirit'.

Let's drink to that!


Sunday, August 05, 2012

Shooting for glory [218/365]

Source: Getty Images
It looks like shooting could be in our blood after all. Ever since Abhinav captured India's imagination with an Olympic gold, we have been getting better at shooting.

Yesterday, we got our second Oly medal- a silver in the 25 mtr rapid fire pistol event when serving army man Subedar Vijay Kumar Sharma of the 16th Dogra Regiment in a 40 shot finished just 4 points behind Cuba.
Calm, composed and with none the fist bumping and celebration that our other athletes are known for, he like his medal colleagues worked his way up the ranks.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- Sports reveals character. And its about time we had more world-class athletes.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ga Ga Gagan [213/365]

Source: ForbesIndia
And India got her first medal.

Gagan Narang, 29 and India's sweetheart in a hurry, won a bronze in the men's 10 meter air rifle.
But for optimists who think this would be the start of deluge of Oly medals, our nation's medal rank will disappoint. We are already 25th in the list.

India's former sweetheart, Abhinav Bindra didnt make it. Armchair sportstars will have a field day ridiculing Abhinav but considering how close he came (Abhinav lost by a mere 4 points) I think he will make us proud again. Nonetheless, I think this is great news. From great falls, you rise again.

In other news, our hockey team went down fighting. Which is a welcome relief from the poor shows they have been putting in the past couple of Games.
Hesh and Bopanna are still in the reckoning but considering how unsportsmanlike the duo have been over the selection process, I doubt if they will get a medal. Ditto with Lee or Sania. Am I a raging pessimist? No. Sportspersons who bicker like petty kinder-garden kids over who they will play with cannot possibly have any character within themselves.
While we wait for a couple of more medals, considering the Law of Averages, I can confidently say that Indian sports have entered a bright new era where performance does matter.

Until the next medal, India will continue to fawn over it's newest sharp shooter.


Friday, June 01, 2012

The Olympic Quest [152/365]

Even as I write this, London is abuzz with activity putting the finishing touches to the greatest sporting extravaganza the world will ever see. Held every leap year, the Olympics has been the ultimate goal for any sportsperson worth his/her sweat.

Having lived abroad for a significant part of my life, I've seen athletes train hard and long just for that elusive Olympic gold.
Globally, nations have encouraged their citizens to choose a sport of their choice and actively groomed them. By catching them young, they achieve a level of perfection that we as Indians could never achieve.

I've wondered why as a nation of a billion and growing, can not produce competitive and successful sportspeople. What is the reason of our obsession with cricket? Why have we abandoned hockey? Why can't be groom children to be excellent in one sport?

Many argue that we have not produced sportspeople the way other nations have, because as a culture we tend to focus on academics more than we do on sports.
Somehow we are brought up to believe that sports can never secure our financial future. Not entirely untrue since many of our medalists are forgotten as soon as they are feted.
We are brought up to believe that a good degree is what will get us a secure job, a good spouse, and retirement benefits.
If you are not in the big league, you are just a statistic.
Training and competing in games that matter are never cheap and sponsorship is painful and slow. Politicians will only support you if you scratch their backs. Forget corporate sponsorship if you are not into cricket.

But thankfully, this is slowly changing. About time too.
Indian athletes and sportsperson are slowly getting the limelight they deserve. And it appears that we are excelling both in individual and team sports. Saina, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Virender, Abhinav and a dozen other sportspeople are bringing India much needed recognition and it appears we are finally being looked upon as a nation that can multi-task well.

We finally have individuals who are ranked in the top ten in their disciplines and no, its besides cricket.
What contributed to this is definitely not a change in the way we raise our children nor in the way our nation perceives our non-cricket playing sportspersons, but in the way that we have recieved training, support and funding.
Two of the most spectacular examples of how corporates are put their money where their mouths are is the Mittal Champions Trust (MCT) and the Olympic Gold Quest (OCQ).

Dismayed at how we have been performing in international events, corporates created a trust fund that took care of some of the most basic grouses of an athlete and their families. Be it the lack of infrastructure or financial support in times of any need, these Trusts have made a difference in the lives of sportspersons who would have otherwise struggled. And the results are there for everyone to see- this will be India's largest Olympic contingent in history.

Our athletes for the first time are better prepared and sufficiently equipped. Many of the individuals competing are exude confidence while being cautious not to appear cocky. Nearly all of them are safe in the knowledge that the Trusts have taken care of all of theirs and their families' needs.

With safe optimism, we can expect atleast a dozen medals in disciplines like Boxing, Shooting, Wrestling, Badminton, Tennis and Weight-lifting. While this is good for us as a nation, I can also see our politicians leverage any medal to their benefit.

All said, London is the place to be this July.


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