Thinking about Abhinav Bindra, not just India’s gold medal
I get goose flesh when I hear our national anthem playing in a movie hall so you can imagine my plight when the national anthem played after Abhinav Bindra won India’s first ever individual gold medal at the Olympics.
But after that initial and momentary euphoria about India, I have been thinking of Abhinav Bindra. Just Abhinav Bindra, not India. He did it with the emotional and financial support of his family, not the government.
For more than a decade now my life has been all about my sport. In fact, I do not have a life beyond the confines of the 10m range. I have had a range built in my own home to cut down any possibility of distraction and to be able to practise my sport whenever the fancy strikes me.
I have been thinking about how hard Abhinav worked, about his sacrifice, about his drive. But the truth is that many of us know of him today because he won. If he hadn’t, he would have slipped into oblivion…but it wouldn’t have take away from who he is. Quoting again from his own blog:
I would like to reiterate that everyone who represents India at the Olympic Games has put in years of toil and sweat. I ask the Indian people to support our athletes more. It is fine to celebrate our achievements but it is just as important to keep up the backing when we are not on top of our game.
It’s not just the government we need to blame, but also ourselves. We love to hate those who lost. Remember last year when M.S. Dhoni’s house was attacked when we lost to Bangladesh in the opening round of the World Cup?
But coming back to India, let’s look at it from the angle of my Chinese friend. After we won, Gugin commented:
China’s first gold was also in shooting back in 1984 when Abhinav Bindra was 2 years old. A long way but not that long. A journey of thousands of miles begins with the first step! CONGRATULATIONS for this first golden step!!
I am grateful for his generosity because what he failed to mention was that Xu Haifeng, the first Chinese to win a gold medal (in the men’s free pistol event at the LA Olympics) wasn’t the only gold medalist at the event. China won 15 gold medals! The count went thus: Total: 32. 8 Silver, 9 Bronze and 15 Gold. And 1984 was the first time that China was taking part in the Olympics.
I know one shouldn’t compare because the Chinese have a different political system, a system that can make things happen. However what I like about China is their attitude to Sports..they think winning Olympic medals is critical, a matter of great prestige…and they give it the funding and energy it requires.
A lot of people more qualified than me have written as to why we as a nation with a tradition of sports cannot compete at an international level. These are some of the theories:
- Lack of a sports culture (which I think is due to lesser leisure time)
- Lack of sports infrastructure (Indians excel more at games like chess or Scrabble as infrastructure is not required)
I think the main reason is corruption. Someone said in the blogosphere once that even if a quarter of the aid that is meant to feed the hungry in India reached where it intended no one would starve, if only one quarter of the aid to fund education in India reached the intended every child would be educated…and similarly I feel that if at least half the aid meant to fund sports in India reached the intended, we would get the medals.
There is corruption in selecting players too. When players are selected by paying bribes, as it happened in hockey, what can we expect? This must be happening in all sports, except cricket, where India has a burning desire to win.
That’s what we need. The will to want to win. The will is clearly missing where other sports are concerned.
Abhinav has written on his blog that he wishes that “more private initiatives come up with corporate support apart from the backing of the government” and I agree with him. The interest from industrialists has begun, and an example is Lakshmi Mittal (steel billionaire) who has provided millions of dollars to promising athletes. I just hope he keeps a watch on where the money is going…
(Photo is from the bbc site)
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