Friday, August 20, 2004


Its inevitable, and it just got worse. Our showing at the Olympics. Ever watched a movie scene that makes you squirm and wish that it would magically skip ahead the next time you watch it? Olympics are a little like that. Every four years, we gather together a few grams of pride, a few ounces of talent, and put the collective weight of a billion people on the shoulders of a few unlucky athletes, who believe it or not, are glad to have simply made the cut.

This year it just got worse. The number of doping scandals involving India outnumber the number of medals we have won thus far. What a race we are fighting!!! Are we short on talent? Are we short on funds? Do we suffer from an inferiority complex? No. What we lack is national pride. Let me illustrate.

When West Indies toured England in 1976, the English captain Tony Greig said that he believed England could turn over the West Indies. "They are a good side," he said, relaxing on the balcony at Hove. "But when they are down, they grovel. And with the help of Closey [Brian Close] and a few others, I intend to make them grovel". Greig was born in South Africa, and at that time some people saw all white South Africans as being inextricably linked with the apartheid regime. To them, his comments were a racist reference to white supremacy. What happened next? The West Indians got fired up and took it upon themselves to humble Greig. They won the series convincingly and shut up the likes of Greig for good.

That is national pride. That essence of wanting to do the best for your country, not taking anything lying down, proving that you are better than the best. Leander Paes does it, and I respect him for it. His 'miracles' in Davis Cup matches and his bronze at the Atlanta Olympics is a testament to that. (Unfortunately, I just read the news that we missed out on the bronze for the doubles tournament in this edition).

What else can we expect? Anjali Bhagwat bombed, Kunjarani Devi feigned an injury, our hockey team is struggling ... do we have to grovel for every medal?? Where is the national pride, the focus? Look at how the Chinese targetted and won medals. They groomed their long-distance runners till they became a formidable team. No babudom, no ministers running their personal fiefdoms. All they had was a clear 'Lakshya', and they got to it. Yes, Rajyavardhan Rathore won a silver, but how much of that contribution came from the system?

Is their hope? Not right now. I am sad and angry at these results. Ask this question again after a few months, and my optimism may bounce back .... till then, keep limping!!!


Avinash said...

There was this radical proposal to hand over sports administration to the army. Though I am not sure we need to go that far, a few retired colonels and brigadiers in the various sports admin bodies might do some good.

Parth said...

Actually, a year back such a plan was brought into action. The Indian Army came up with some public statements about training a bunch of people for the Olympics. Sadly, even this did not yield anything.