What do Indians have in their “London Dreams?” I asked myself. Indian sports have never been as good as they are now so 6-7 medals this time looks to be a sensible estimate with just 30 days left for the world’s most supreme sporting display. If I had been asked the same question four years back, my answer would not have been the same. I would have just laughed and ignored it. Now the question arises – What has changed in these four years?
Training has become more sophisticated, satisfactory global exposure has been provided, prospects have increased and the most significant thing is that the approach of people towards sports has changed. I strongly believe that this time the athletes will become the omens of what can be considered as the national sporting culture in years to come.
Since Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the silver medal at Athens Olympics in 2004, inclination towards other sports than Cricket has undeniably changed. In 2008, Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Singh and Sushil Kumar cast aside the heavy shadow of disappointment of our past that branded the Indian Olympic Sport for 108 long years. The three medals won in Beijing proved to be a catalyst in shaping the performance of Indian athletes at the international level. Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual gold in 2008. With state governments setting up academies to promote various sports, India looked self-possessed to make a statement at the world stage in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the following Asian Games in Guangzhou.
India’s quest for medals in Olympics has never been satisfying. We have partaken in Olympics 22 times since our first appearance in 1900. We have won just 20 medals in 22 Olympic Games. This implies we have an average of less than one medal for each time we take part in Olympics. Moreover, out of those 20, we have 11 in hockey that we won before 1980. Our performance in 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympics was pathetic. But since the last three Olympics, our ranking in the medals tally is improving. We ranked 71 at Sydney Olympics in 2000, held 65thposition at Athens Olympics in 2004 and rose to 50th place at Beijing in 2008.
Who can end India’s hunger for medals this summer? Who will complete the hunt for gold? India is sending its biggest ever contingent for the London Olympics , a 81 member strong squad that includes the stars of Beijing- Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Singh and Sushil Kumar and the Badminton Queen Saina Nehwal. We have MC Mary Kom a.k.a. ‘Magnificient Mary’ in women’s boxing and CWG 2010 Gold Medalist Krishna Poonia in Discus Throw. In tennis, a lot of hopes are from the Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. In shooting, we have Ranjan Sodhi in Double Trap and Gagan Narang in 10m Air Rifle with Abhinav Bindra. In wrestling, CWG Gold medalist Yogeshwar Dutt will prove his worth with Sushil Kumar.
With Indian Olympic dreams being showered by immense potential, I hope we win as many medals as we can to mark the commencement of a new era in which we will not be far behind nations like USA and China.