Rio 2016: Where does India stand?

The greatest spectacle in sports, held every four years, the 2016 Olympics is just around the corner and the whole world is excited about this mega sporting event to be held from August the 5th to August the 21st in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The people of India will be expecting a lot more medals from the Indian contingent. India has been taking part in the Olympics since 1900, before independence and has only won 26 medals so far, which makes for 1 medal per 383 million people. Even countries like Kenya and Ghana have better performance than India in this respect.

India is the world’s 2nd most populous country and the largest democracy. Strangely, this is the reason behind India’s weakness in sports. Democracy, on the other hand, is mounted by corruption and it can be rightly said that ‘India is not the largest democratic, but the largest corrupted nation in the world.’ This is the reason for the gross mismanagement of resources already allocated for sports in India. And although India ranks 129 in terms of per-capita income in the world and still we managed the 50th position in the Beijing Olympics. Hence, the population argument should not be used to disparage India’s performance.

Another reason for this shortcoming is the nation’s obsession with cricket. India’s dominance in world cricket has kept the spotlight fixed on this English sport. All this has led to favouritism, poor sports infrastructure and facilities for sports of other categories.

Parents in India give more emphasis on academics. They consider sports to serve only recreational purposes. Work and education are believed to be the only way of livelihood and sports have never been considered for that. This must be changed if India has to become a sporting nation.

India’s chance in Rio Olympics

The 2016 Rio Olympics are less than 9 months away. India is planning to better its 2012 tally of six medals. This would be possible only if India is able to send a contingent of at least 100 athletes. According to information available to the government, 57 Indians have qualified so far for the 2016 Olympics, and 32 of them are from Hockey (Men & Women). So we must send a contingent of at least a hundred athletes in 2016.

The Government has formulated the ‘Target Olympic Podium Scheme’ (TOP Scheme). The funding for this scheme will come from the National Sports Development Fund. The objective of the scheme is to identify and support potential medal prospects for 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. The selected athletes are being provided financial assistance for their customized training at institutes having world class facilities and other necessary support.So far, 88 sportspersons have applied for assistance and an assistance of ₹6.22 crore has been sanctioned to them. The total outlay for the scheme is about 43 crores.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports got a hike of around Rs 384 crore in the budget for 2015-16. Under the sports and games head, Sports Authority of India (SAI) will get an amount of ₹369.39 crore – a hike of ₹17.34 crore. This will definitely help in the development of indoor and outdoor facilities for sports in India.

Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu in Badminton, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt in wrestling, Gagan Narang in shooting, Shiva Thapa in boxing among others hold promise in winning medals this year. The Indian Hockey Team, which has not won a single medal since 1980 Moscow Olympics will be eagerly waiting to stand on the podium this time.

As Pierre de Frédy Baron de Coubertin, Founder of the International Olympic Committee, and father of the modern Olympic Games rightly said:

The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

by Hirak Jyoti Talukdar & Abhineet Dey


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