Why India struggles at Olympics?

The Olympic Games concluded at Rio de Janeiro last month and just like any other Olympics, India had to deal with a disastrous performance again. They were placed 70th on Olympic medal tally. Just two medals from a population of 130 million? Why? Let's find out.

116 years ago India appeared at Olympic Games for the first time at Paris. Norman Pritchard was the only athlete who represented India at that event. He won 2 silver medals in athletics. Looking at the condition of country back then, it was a remarkable achievement. The start was promising but let's come back to 2016. 116 years later, India sent their biggest ever Olympic team. 117 players participated in Rio de Janeiro Olympics but again, the number of medals were same as they were 116 years ago in India's first appearance. What does this prove? It proves that in last 116 years India went through so much change, they got Independence, they reached moon, they sent satellites to mars they have one of the strongest army and they are one of the quickly developing countries but the fortune of sports are same as it was in 1900.

In 116 years and 24 Olympic Games, India has 28 medals. 9 Gold, 7 Silver and 12 Bronze. The only success that India had in Olympics so far came via Men Hockey team. The Hockey team won a total of 8 out of 9 Gold medals that India have. Such was dominance of Hockey team that they won 6 consecutive Olympic Gold medals from 1928 to 1956 but that is all. The Hockey team also faded away in last 2 or three decades. We Indians don't have anything else where we really dominated. The highest number of medals India ever won at a single Olympic Games was in 2012 as India finished 56th with 3 Silver and 3 Bronze medals at London Olympics.

So with 28 medals in 116 years, we have achieved only one thing and that is the tag of 'One of the worst sports nation'. We have worst record for medals per head. Countries like China, USA, England and even Australia, win 40+ medals every time they participate. Australia with a population of just 25 million people, won 29 medals at Rio Olympics and that is still one more than what we have won in last 116 years. Even in comparison with Grenada or Jamaica, we stand nowhere and stretch that further, Michael Phelps alone has won more medals than India has won in 116 years. So why can't our sportsmen win some medals? What is the reason? There are various reasons. Let's find out each of them.

In India, no matter where you are, you will find a temple within 7 kilometers. In Great Britain, no matter where you are, you will find a professional sports stadium. So when they play, we pray. The lack of facilities for sports in India is one of many problems. If a youngster chooses to play, he won't find proper ground and equipments in most of the cases. In most cases, the players get no government support and have to pay for their trips, diet and other expenses. Manish Singh who participated in racewalking 20 Km event at Rio this year, belongs to Uttarakhand and he works as a waiter in a small hotel there. His monthly income is 1500 INR by which he runs his family. He practiced on his own and had no shoes for practice. Despite all the odds he finished 13th in the race. On the other hand the English and American athletes are provided with a great atmosphere and money for their sports.

Infrastructure is not the only problem that Indian sportsmen face. We don't have a sports culture here in India. Parents want their kids to be Engineer or doctor or anything but not sportsman. I remember when I was in class 8th, there was a boy named Gurucharan who was quick as rocket. He was selected to represent our school in 100 meter inter-school event and he came first as he completed 100 meter in 11 odd seconds which was incredible for a 14 year old. He was selected to represent my city in a race held at Patna but his parents didn't let him go. He was forced to give up on sports and was asked to focus on study. There are thousands of Gurucharans in India who are potential Olympic gold medalists but instead they are sitting somewhere in a corporate office in front of a computer.

Society is another problem in India. Sports can be cruel sometimes and one needs motivation. But since there is no sports culture in our country, sportsmen at lower level are considered as lunatic people. Being sportsmen myself, I know the pain. I remember when I started playing cricket, my grandpa told my father that either I have to study or play cricket at my own. I will get no financial or moral support from family. Fortunately my father was not such person and he supported me all the way and still supporting me. This is the story of every sportsman in India. People laugh at them, discourage them but you will rarely see someone supporting a sportsman.

Apart from Culture, Support and facilities, there is another problem. We don't have a good structure here. People even at state and national level are mostly armatures. There is no selection process, no professional camps and the sports authority probably are not doing enough to change this situation. The politicians are ruling the sports bodies and sometimes (In fact most of the times) talented players are left behind and those who get selected, are either son of a rich businessman or those who have some political background. The main motive of those people is to get a government job on sports quota. This derails the hopes of forming a great team as most of them are playing for jobs instead of medals. Those who are good enough but poor, watch the rich but less talented ones play from the fence.

So looking at these points, we can say that there is nothing wrong with our sportsmen. They are dedicated they work hard and they are doing everything that is possible to get India a medal but its Government, Sports authority and our society that failed to provide enough support to them. If this situation remained same, the number of medals we win at Olympics won't improve ever.

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Author: Venkiteswaran10 Oct 2016 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

A crop will yield only if cared well from the stage of seeding or planting.

This is same with regard to nurturing sports and sports persons. From experience we had found that our Olympic teams are selected only a few months before the events start. That is just adhoc action.

It is here that the visionary instruction of Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi's announcement(immediately after Rio Olympics) on the constitution of a ‘task force’, which will prepare the road map for the next three quadrennial Games- 2020 (Tokyo), 2024 and 2028."

We can hope that India will have better prospects at Olympics now.

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