A billion prayers were answered on Monday as Shooter Gagan Narang opened the account for India at Olympics with a bronze. The sigh of relief was visible in the emotions of Gagan Narang who hugged the other medal winners and raised his hands to acknowledge he has got that “huge stone off his chest”. Even sports minister Ajay Maken admitted, “Izzat bacha dee isne (he salvaged our reputation).” On the social media front, millions of tweets and Facebook posts thanked Narang for restoring the faith showed by the fans in the Indian contingent in the build up to the games. Out-of-the-box thinking is always out of the reach of our politicians, and they didn’t do any different on Monday, announcing rewards for Narang to cash-in on the public emotions.
In all these emotions, one man was unmoved, he was happy but not content with what Narang achieved in 10m Air Rifle. He expected him to win the yellow metal, and now he is advising the experienced marksmen to focus on his next two events. Bhimsen Narang, father of Gagan, is elated but not satisfied, and so should be our fans and all those stakeholders who have invested their time, energy and emotions in this Indian Olympic team. We need to hold off our celebrations for now and focus on the task ahead of us to make this Games our best ever.
Our hockey team played well in patches but failed to convert the chances that came their way against the Netherlands in their opening group encounter. Our tennis pairs of Mahesh Bhupathi/Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes/Vishnu Vardhan just managed to scrape past their opponents in the first round. Boxer Sumit Sanghwan was unlucky to lose his bout and Commonwealth Games Women Doubles Champions Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Poonappa are still in the hunt after a three-set victory against Chinese Taipei pair, seeded ten in the world. Saina Nehwal‘s biggest test is yet to come, as the knock-outs will now begin in the singles.
Abhinav Bindra became one of many high-profile casualties joining the league of the likes of Michael Phelps & Stephanie Rice (Swimmers), Mark Cavendish (Cycling) and Spain (Football) who failed to live up to their expectations. To win a gold on the world’s biggest sporting show is priceless, but to win back-to-back gold is supreme, it makes you a great sporting icon across the world. Many sporting greats have failed to win at Olympics, a notable example is of Roger Federer who is hungry to complete his cupboard with the only singles trophy missing in it.
The enthusiasm is again building in the virtual world, the spirits have been lifted, the camp’s morale has picked up. Can the rest of the contingent raise their game in the days to come? Are we happy with a few medals? Or are we hungry to inspire a nation, long waiting to look beyond cricket for inspiration? Only the next few days will tell…
By Aman Dhall
(The author is Co-founder & Partner, Pro4Sport Solutions, a high-performance coaching firm that trains young athletes in the sport of Basketball, Cricket, Football and Table Tennis)