In a country where it is every mother’s dream to see her son/daughter as an engineer or a doctor, it isn’t surprising that sports has always taken a backseat. In such a scenario, the few Indian sportsmen who represent their country in international sports meets indeed have to be applauded for their very presence in such events. The struggle of an Indian sportsman is not only against his opponent, it is also against the society in which he lives. A society which discourages sport but promotes “hero-worship” for medal winners; a society that is more interested in the money that he makes than his contribution to the country; a society that turns a blind eye to the hard work that goes behind every performance.
The best example of this is the criticism of Abhinav Bindra‘s performance in yesterday’s Men’s 10M Air RifleShooting event. It was disappointing to see a leading news portal saying Bindra’s performance was “shocking”. For your information, Bindra got a total tally of 594/600 and still finished at 16th place in the qualifiers out of the total 47 contestants. His counterpart Gagan Narang, on the other hand, had a tally of 598/600. It was indeed a bad day for Bindra, but by no means shockingly disappointing.
He surely had his moments and more than a few great shots. It’s just that we fail to realise that the “margin for error” in this sport is far too small. If their performances are seen as percentages, Bindra scored a 99% and Gagan a 99.66 %. How many of us realise that Bindra lost out by 0.66%? I personally feel that a 99% performance in any field is incredible. You would be distributing sweets in your neighbourhood had your son/daughter secured 99% in an examination, wouldn’t you? So why do you treat Bindra’s performance any less?
It’s note-worthy that Gagan Narang equaled the Gold medalist Romanian’s score of 103.1 in the final round. What separated Gagan from the Gold was the one point difference in the qualifiers (Alin George got a world record 599). So just imagine how close he was to the Silver! Isn’t a gold medal every Olympian’s dream? At this moment, it’s only Gagan who can feel the sting. The extent of glory that could have been attained after all those hours of rigorous training was decided by one point.
Maybe the time has come for us to back our sportsmen. It’s time we change as a society and give more encouragement in times of disappointment and despair by understanding the nuances of the sport. It’s up to us to cheer the Bindras and the Narangs, and recognize their hard-work and dedication. Lets start by changing a “bad performance” to a “can do better” view, as such encouragement is bound to bring out the best in our sportsmen and sportswomen in future.