August 13, 2008
Michael Phelps 11, India 1
While it is but natural that we're elated at Abhinav Bindra winning an Olympic gold medal, it has to be seen in perspective. Michael Phelps, by himself, has 11 golds - the highest of all time. He's targeting 3 more in this games.
Do you realize the scary part? He is 23 years old. That is positively scary. It means he will (if he's still motivated) compete for another two Olympics at least! India has a total of 16 medals at the Olympics to date. Phelps has 13, and will draw level with India if he achieves his goal of 8 golds in the Beijing games! Think about it - one sportsman has as many medals as an entire country.
Yet, I keep hearing this chant of "One billion people and we can't win a medal" (Ok, now it should change to "One billion people and we win just one gold medal"). That chant doesn't make sense. Not all one billion are good at, or can afford, elite sport.
Elite sport is such that in a nation of 1 billion people, at most 100 of them would qualify as world-class sportspersons. The fact is that of those 100 sportspersons, only between 5 and 10 are truly champion material. Elite sport most definitely isn't something where the number of people taking up sport will directly result in better quality performances.
Think about it. If the IOA aims to ensure that India wins 2 gold medals at the 2012 Olympics in London, are they better off targetting 1 billion people and asking all of them to jog, exercise & stay fit? Of course they're not going to do that! It is a different matter though that the IOA will plan for 2012 in 2010.
Yes, awareness amongst the general public does raise the profile of the sport, which is the primary reason for the success of cricket. India's cricketers haven't exactly been world #1 either. Wins in multi-nation tournaments and overseas have been sporadic and infuriatingly in contrast to the players' ability. But where cricket scores is the fact that the BCCI was able to successfully rope in enough sponsors for tours & tournaments, ensure good quality coverage of these games and slowly raise the profile of the game. They did get lucky too, with some brilliant players simultaneously raising their game to great heights.
Abhinav's achievement needs to be used as a motivating tool for the top 100 sportspersons. I've watched some of the interviews he has given to the news channels and he seems so bloody calm and composed. Based on what he says, he prepares very well and does his job on the day, without bothering about the end result, since that's not something he can control. Under that cool & calm exterior is obviously someone who was seething at not doing well in two successive Olympics. But, he didn't let the frustration get to him. That's why he's the man of the moment.
Labels: abhinav bindra, gold medal, india, olympics, shooting, sports
Rambled @ 11:44 PM
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Very well said, Jaga.
Hopefully, other Indian sportsmen @ Beijing aren't be contented with Abhinav's win for the country.
Also, isn't the country favoring Cricket more than any other game? Don't get me wrong, but I'm just trying to be a Devil's Advocate. BCCI contracts ex-captains from different nations as India's coaches in different streams - batting, fielding etc. Has this been done for other games too? I agree that the audience factor plays a major role too, how many of us follow swimming, shooting as closely as Cricket? Is it because of the near-to-zero media coverage or the poor/moderate performance of the athletes? Or is it the meagre sponsorship/prize money for other games? I don't know.
There's a lot of cyclical arguments you can build around it - cricket is popular because the players are good, hence sponsors flock to it v/s sponsors hype makes players popular.
But, remember that the BCCI is hardly ever impacted by government decisions (except on telecast rights mandatorily to be shared with DD & when they lease grounds from governments). So it isn't the BCCI's fault that the government does nothing for other sports.
We've had several 'foreign' coaches/advisors/consultants for other teams as well (hockey, football, come to mind). But they get pissed off with infrastructure & total lack of transparency in governance.
we keep talking that bcci lacks transparency. but when you consider other sports/sportsbodies in india, bcci would be far better, i guess. atleast they have taken the game up to unprecendented levels.
In India, only sport that has lot of money is Cricket. its not more sport. its a money making biz.
i see people playing soccer, hockey(our national game), long tennis, and many other sports when i was in school. that time i used to think that these people will become great players one day. but nothing happened. people who are in cricket were able to do it better because of media hype and the money it has in the market and among the people.
government don't want to promote other sports unless it sees some money through it. most of the people who have won are because of their hard work and not by the infrastructure provided by the government as far as i know.
government should come forward in promoting other sports atleast our national sport - hockey in which we shined once.
bala: I don't understand why the government should spend tax payer money on promoting sport. Cricket has (possibly) become the #1 sport because the government wasn't involved in the administration of the game.
I really don't see why my tax money should subsidize an athlete who can't even get past his personal best and makes a fool of himself (& India, by extension in some peoples' opinion).
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