One Billion, One Gold

I experienced a sense of disbelief and then euphoria when I heard of Abhinav Bindra's achievement. That India had finally won an individual Olympic Gold after participating in the Olympic Games for over a century, is a matter of joy and pride. It also goes with the theme of India having arrived on the global stage in all fields of activity.

Life will never be the same again for the Bindra, a bespectacled clean-cut 'IT-type', the kind you would expect to go to work with a batch around his neck, facing a computer screen and typing code from 8 to 5, rather than having a gun in hand. He will deservedly be lionized by the media, politicians, corporate sponsors and the general public. But this post is not about him. It is about the sorry situation our country is in in terms of international sports.

After the euphoria of his victory died down, I began to think of the situation. A nation of a billion people going crazy on winning a single Olympic gold, a feat they've never been able to achieve before. What are the reasons for this mind-boggling low performance? As with all mysterious phenomenon, there are several reasons:
  • Economics: We are just too poor. With a majority of the country engaged in a daily struggle for survival, it is little wonder that play and games is a low concern. This argument, however, doesn't explain why our middle class, in itself a huge segment, is also unable to produce sporting champions.
  • Political: We don't receive the necessary support. This includes infrastructural facilities for sports in our schools and colleges, as well as financial support for promising athletes and sportspersons. There is a clear lack of political will to make the necessary investments and provide the major thrust that this field requires.
  • Societal: Sports are not really considered a good way to make a living (excluding cricket, of course). A middle class parent would hardly motivate his child to devote all his time and energy to sports. A Sania Mirza or a Vishwanathan Anand are exceptions that prove the rule.
  • Institutional: There are very few avenues for aspiring sportspersons to pursue if they wish to further their sporting ambitions. A lack of sports scholarships in higher education forces everyone to choose between academics or sports. And given the weight of the factors against choosing sports, one is compelled to discard his/her dream.

I think our country should not miss this opportunity to discuss the above problems and form a collective will to solve them. It is only when we win Golds in proportion to our population that we will truly arrive on the global sports scene.


  1. Here's the link to Abhinav Bindra's own blog:

    Seems like a nice guy!


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