The medal tally of our Indian sportsmen in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi has shown the world that Indians can be good sportsmen!There have been some pleasant surprises in gymnastics, athletics, archery, and wrestling. It seems as if we are, after all, not hopelessly backwards in sports! Unfortunately, our obsession with cricket might have caused us to ignore the other disciplines!
I was specially amazed to see the tenacity and determination of Kavita Raut who managed to keep up with the powerful Kenyan girls! It is the Kenyans and the Ethiopians who are the undisputed leaders in the marathon and for an Indian girl to keep up with them was particularly amazing! Kavita was able to clinch the bronze in the 10,000 meters Marathon, an amazing feat, no doubt! Our sportsmen did very well in wrestling, but the efforts of the women wrestlers were praiseworthy. I was able to watch a live telecast of Anita wrestling with Megan of Canada during the 67 Kg. final and it was an amazing match with the feisty Indian girl locking the strapping Canadian! Another athlete who amazed me most was Ashish Kumar, the rather young looking 19 year old boy who was able to garner the silver on the vault table event! It was amazing, whoever could have thought about an Indian winning a silver in Gymnastics ! The games were also about tears and emotions, and among these, the most touching were the tears of Babita who had to manage with the Silver in wrestling. Even on the podium she was inconsolable! Her sister had managed a Gold in wrestling. Dola Banerjee, Deepika Kumari and Bombayyala were able to win the gold in Archery recurve team event! While the performances of out sportsmen in the wrestling events were predictable, the performance of our sportsmen in the marathon, gymnastics and archery certainly were a pleasant surprise!
Looking at the performance of our sportsmen in the New Delhi Commonwealth games, I feel that there is still a good chance that our sportsmen can still do well in the forthcoming Olympics. All is not lost for our sportsmen. It is just that we need to do more for our sportsmen. They need proper training, proper facilities proper coaches, and of course, encouragement, respect and moral support from the society. It is high time we weaned ourselves from cricket, and instead gave more attention to the other games! Today a cricketer has more respect in the society than a boxer, or a swimmer or a tennis player! It is unfortunate that we didn’t do well in our National game-Hockey. It is high time we started working on improving the performance of the National Hockey team. We need to do better in swimming. To get talented sportsmen, we should identify talent at an early stage, preferably at the school level. Every school should have facilities for developing sports talent. There should be gymnasiums, stadia, Hockey fields…etc. Scholarships should be given to students who display talent in sports. It is only if we do all this that we will be able to field better sportsmen in International events! Our sportswomen have done very well in the Commonwealth Games, and they are an example for our sportsmen!