Marching Towards Sporting Excellence
Sports in India is seeing the dawn of a new horizon. After a credible show in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, where the country has won its first Gold medal in Track & Field events, now the para-athletes have made the nation proud by winning 19 medals in the Paralympics. So far, it is the best ever Indian show in the Paralympics which started in 1960. The success is indicative of the fact that these days Indians are not only obsessed with Cricket, other sports too are catching the attention of the nation and youths are pursuing different sports seriously, being inspired by the success of Neeraj Yadav and Deepa Malik amongst others. Salute to the sportspersons who have excelled in the international arena and have brought laurels to the country. It is for them that the Indian Tri-colours are being unfurled regularly at various international sporting events. They are making the tune of our National Anthem popular.
Even a child in India knows how difficult it is to take up sports as a career in the country. Firstly, guardians want their wards to concentrate only on studies. This is why we have lost many talented sports persons in their budding years. Then comes the question of livelihood. There is nothing wrong with cricketers earning substantial amounts, but the fact remains that sponsorship and other facilities are rarely available for disciplines other than Cricket. Lack of proper training facilities is another problem area for our sportspersons. Indian sportspersons have to cross all these hurdles to stand on the podium.
This is why the success of Indian sportspersons is even more precious. Whilst other nations spot talents early and train them to become world champions, Indian sportspersons have to fight hard to reach the top all alone. From P. T. Usha to Deepa Malik, the story of every Indian sportsperson is the same. They have to defeat poverty, social taboos and above all the apathy of their federations to become champions. Many may argue that things are changing now as the government and sporting federations are now supporting sportspersons like never before. However, it can be argued that the process of promoting sports has just started and there are many more miles to go. Why was a sportsperson like Mirabai Chanu not noticed earlier when she had to plead before truck drivers to take her to the practice ground. Why was there no proper infrastructure for the para-athletes although India has been participating in Paralympics since 1960. The scenario for para-athletes changed only after Deepa Malik and T. Mariyappan’s medal winning performance at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Thus, by showcasing their talents in the international arena, Indian athletes and para-athletes have laid the foundation for India to take off to fulfil its dream of becoming a sporting nation. For a country of nearly 140 crore people, so far we have not achieved anything spectacular in sports apart from two individual Golds in the Olympics; forget about being a dominant force in the sporting arena. Now, sports in India should only march towards excellence.