Sunday, August 21, 2016

Not Just a Medal But a Lot More to Battle For!

“When I fell down, I was like, ah. One moment, my race is over, my dream is over; but then I managed to dig deep. I promised my daughter Rhianna, my oldest daughter, I was gonna get her a medal. And in my mind I was like, ‘nah, I can’t let her down”... Mo Faraha.
“Frankly speaking I had come here (Rio) to win a gold medal only! Our country is participating in the Olympics for first time & we have won gold in first attempt & its awesome feel; we may be a small & poor country but if you have dedication then you can be part of this great event even after a terrible war & win a medal too”... Majinda Kelmendi.
Mo Farah, 10,000m second time gold medalist from Brittan expressed after his thrilling win even after falling down on track at Rio Olympics. On similar lines expressed Majinda who won Judo medal for Kosovo; these words says what an Olympic medal meant for any participant of the great game! When I started writing this blog, already India has banked two medals & both by women. Both the women made history in their own way i.e. Sakshi Malik became first lady wrestler to get a medal in Olympics for our country & very same day Sindhu assured silver, becoming first woman to get silver medal for country! The shuttler wasn’t satisfied with silver & fought like a true warrior with World No 1 till three games & finally lost the fight for gold! And what a honorable way to lose; again proving, sometimes it’s not just the figures which decides the match result but the memories we take back at home after the match decides the winner. And for 120 crores of Indians, especially those like me who are not only fan but play the game of shuttle by themselves will be always grateful to Sindhu for the way she played in finals at Rio!

The Olympic which is supposedly greatest competition in any format of game, right form athletics to swimming & many games which we came to know about only at the Olympic. It has also heritage of controversies which follows every Olympic, may it be arrangements at the venue or economic impact on the organizing country or even doping scandals with participants. Yet one thing remains & that is its highest regard in the minds of not just players but everyone associated with game, coaches, physios, support staff, volunteers & yes fans all over the world, all seek just one thing, a medal in Olympics! In Greek Citius, Altius, Fortius”, it means “Faster, Higher & Stronger”; that’s the motto of the tournament. This motto makes us realize every time you should try to outperform not just opponents but your own self too!
One more thing is common in controversy that too with our country & that is criticizing our team’s failure! And this time also we were not spared as first eleven days went without a medal & not so good performance by our players barring those by shooter Bindra & gymnast Deepa. Outcome was, right from our page 3 specialists to everyone started doubting our player’s capacity to win, even their intentions to go to Rio! Though there were many supporters for our players who replied Miss Page 3, yet it’s equally true many were thinking what’s going wrong with our country’s players; why even with over hundred player’s squad, we are not getting a single medal? Well, now with two of the girls getting medals will surely shut many critics but is it enough is also equally true. In our country success never needed analysis where as failure has thousands of critics, is always an unfortunate fact. Again why a victory should have gender shade to it, that is the question but that’s obvious in a country where we have to make slogans like “Save Girl Child”! Need of the time is to analyze sakshi & sindhu’s success at the same time lets work out how we can have more of them. Because if we study our game history barring cricket we never got consistent success at international level & this is the matter of concern. Agreed Sindhu & Saina are doing at world level much consistently but what besides them? At the same time we had Mary Come in boxing who next? We had Bindra with gold medal, again who is next in line? I am not referring to only Olympic but entire world level success ratio if we consider then it’s always individualistic & like years after year even  the countries like Ethiopia or Kenya or Jamaica produces athletes like ocean waves, while we have been just happy with trifles! And I am not comparing developed countries like USA, Germany, England or Russia. Even China has produced wonders after late entry in world level tournaments, so why we have to be satisfied by one Sindhu or one Saniya or one Sushilkumar & they too end as one tournament wonder!
Yes apart from cricket which unfortunately not part of big tournament one game we used to dominate, it was hockey. Here we have won seven or eight gold strait in a row, proving total dominance in the game over the years but that too we gave away to Western countries which learned basics of the game from us only.  And then in recent past we have been striking medals in wrestling but that too got cursed, first due to controversy over selection & then doping. Our best hope in wrestling is Narsing Yadav who got banned for four years ending his carrier itself. More than that the anti doping authority has raised serious question about entire system in India, asking how anybody can enter in the facility where athletes are trained & mix banned drugs in food of the players! As that’s what has been claimed by NADA i.e. our national anti doping authority, in a way exposing loopholes in our sports system itself! And then there has been a message which has gone viral how Gopichand trained Sindhu & lead her to medal, good at least someone is taking cognizance of efforts which are required to get a medal in Olympics! While we are celebrating two medals that too on 12th day but at the same time if we count success ratio then it’s hardly 2% on the count of entire squad which we have sent! And bad part is its way below the past Olympic i.e. where we have got some seven medals! So the graph is downwards which the case we should study is & that’s why I will like to put forward, our inconsistency at international level in any form of game! This is the difference we need to overcome between countries like USA or Jamaica or our neighbor China, where layers of players are developed. When one Lin Dan is snatching gold at the same time a Chen Long is getting ready for next year gold & someone further junior is practicing for Olympic after that, such is the system they have developed. In comparison we have one Kahshba Jadhav who got a bronze & then it too nearly thirty years for another individual medal. We had one PT Usha reaching finals of athletics & then it took again some twenty odd years for a Lalita Babar to reach in final of athletics! I think high time to think on such lacunas in our quest for Olympic medals. And I am not criticizing of doubting efforts of every individual player who has been qualified for the game, but it’s about the system which is supposed to develop the players who will stand to the pressure & quality of the game in Olympic! As going by genetics we are not as physically well built like West Indians or Germans are, so we have to make our self fit enough to rub the shoulders with them, is first challenge!
For that we have to understand social scene in our country, let’s start from the family or parents as it’s the parents’ role which is most vital in identifying a player right in childhood & provide him or her space to develop as a champion! On this front how many parents can afford to develop their son or daughter to make his or her carrier as a sportsman & that too other than cricket? And then those who can afford out of that how many parents allow their child to choose sports as carrier other than standard path like engineering or medical or mba or govt service? This is where the crux is for a country not being able to produce lots of international players, as we don’t believe in making sports as a carrier for our kids! Passion, talent & all other things are fine but that passion & talent get tied up & gagged under the terms like salary package & settling down in life, which sports doesn’t assure one bit here! For example who knew names like Dattu Foknal or Gita Fogut or Lalita Babar before they got qualified for Olympics & what will be there status after coming back from the game without a medal, can anyone assure that? Agreed now govt will give all praise, money & job for those who have won medal but what before that?
Why a young boy or girl who is from an average middle class family should start aspiring for the medal in Olympics with no background of any sports in first place? We need to tap the talent right when the age is nine to ten & train them & then we can expect gold from them at age of eighteen & above & like a production line in auto industry, this procedure should be ever on. And for that like engineering or medical colleges we need to build sports academy at every district level & see that it produces quality players & assure them their future! These institutes should give good scholarships’ as well insurance type backups in case of injuries to the young sports students. Along with game training, the sports institutes should train the athletes to keep away from drugs & stay extreme fit; as injury & doping are the two worst enemies of modern days athletes! Take example of Usen Bolt, it’s not just nine gold in three events in three consecutive Olympics but he has to remain fit & drug free for nearly fifteen years for that, that is what makes Bolt greatest!  
We have IIT’s for making best of technocrats, we have IIM’s to make best of managers, we have AIMS for quality  medical talent & list is on with Architectural, Science as well Commerce Institutes but where are the Institutes which produces quality players & if there are any then what’s going wrong & who is analyzing their output? Same is with attitude of society as well players who have made themselves big even by money (though very few other than cricketers), what is their contribution to sports academies like alumni of IIT’s does for their institutes? How many players who have made it to international level, regularly goes to spend time with young athletes who are yet at State level & share their passion as well exposure? Most importantly, what society in whole is doing for sports in our country? How many corporate have adopted unknown players in sports other than cricket? Agreed we do business to make money so we put our money on the horse which is winning but then what right we have to call other horses as donkey? At the same time there is need of tournaments like IPL in every game which will give opening as well stage for every sportsman to perform & earn some money too. One more important aspect is developing Institutes’ to make coaches also are equally important as to have batch of great sportsmen, we need greater coaches first!

Social media is full of positive as well negative comments about players & their performances but who have actually done something for any sport or for a sportsman in real life? What right we have to speak about our countries performance at Olympic? I think Rio Olympic has definitely opened box of Pandora for all of us & our Hon PM who is keen to make countries mark on International level won’t leave any stone unturned to use sports as best tool for doing so. Only thing is he should realize, an Olympic Medal can be wished through “Man Ki Baat”, but it needs more than just wish as well passion & talent to take it home. The missing link is organized infrastructure & a system to support the talent we have in sports. Lastly, what I as a person gained from Olympic? I enjoyed watching every moment of game & I myself get inspired for being fit by myself first & to do something better than what I am doing for my work as well my surrounding. One more thing, I will surely do my best to support some sport in my best way & will contribute to gain my country medal in not just Olympics but every tournament; this is what I have gained from Olympics & I am sure if each of us decides on same line then only we have understood the gist of “Citius, Altius & Fortious”!

Sanjay Deshpande
Sanjeevani Dev.

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