Rio Olympics 2016: The future of Indian athletics has arrived
Almost every child growing up in the 1990s wanted to be a certain Sachin Tendulkar. Although cricket still remains the undisputed king of sports in our nation, things are changing.
Yes, you heard that right.
Times are indeed changing as far as the sporting scenario is concerned. People are beginning to follow other sports as well, rather than cricket.
The 20th Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championship 2016 concluded recently at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. The intensity of the event and with the Rio 2016 qualification at stake, the timings and distances recorded were much better than the last few editions of the tournament.
Four new national records were created overall in the Championships which prove that this is definitely a purple patch in Indian athletics.
On top of that, Sudha Singh clocked 9:31:86 seconds in the 3000m steeplechase to clinch a Rio 2016 berth.
Athletics is the 'mother of all sports', it is like the 'jewel in the crown'
If we start talking about Indian athletics, we would stumble upon the names of Milkha Singh, PT Usha famously called 'Udan Pari' and then Anju Bobby George who won medals in international events and made an effort to put India somewhere in the global realm of athletics.
But now, Indian athletics seems to have got a new lease of life with the emergence of athletes like OP Jaisha, Lalita Babbar, Tintu Luka, Srabani Nanda, and many others.
On the opening day, Odisha sprinter Dutee Chand clocked 11:33 seconds in the women's sprint to smash the 16-year-old record of Rachita Mistry who clocked 11:38 seconds. Sadly, she missed the 2016 Rio berth by 0.01 second.
Another Odisha sprinter, Amiya Kumar Mallick created a new National Record in the men's 100m. He clocked 10:26 seconds to break the previous record of 10:30 second set by Abdul Najeeb Qureshi in 2010.
Lalita Babar, India’s big medal hope in athletics at the 2016 Rio Olympics, created a new National Record of 9:27.09 seconds in the 3000m steeplechase. She bettered her own record and won the gold medal while Sudha Singh took silver to join her in the same event for the Olympic Games.
The 24-year-old Arokya Rajiv fell short of the Rio qualification mark but clocked 45:47 seconds in the men's 400m to erase the 12-year-old record of K.M. Binu, who ran 45:48 seconds in 2004.
The gold medals just did not stop coming as four more meet records were created on the final day with Tintu Luka, Jinson Johnson, and Srabani Nanda all clinching gold in their respective sport.
With the performances of these promising youngsters speaking for themselves, a lot of expectations are riding on these athletes for Rio Olympics 2016 and Tokyo Olympics 2020.
It's time we start dreaming BIG
The athletes certainly have a bright future ahead if they continue to deliver consistent performances in a quest to be the very best on a regular basis. We have international-level coaches, equipment, and knowledge. We have all the necessary ingredients to produce gold medalists.
To sum up, India has definitely moved ahead from the “eat cricket, sleep cricket” mentality. But it is just the beginning and we have to maintain the momentum in order to make India a sporting power.
Results are not achieved overnight, but Indian Athletics has already taken several giant leaps towards starting the revolution.
India rising to the occasion in the field of international athletics is not too far. It's time we start dreaming big. The dream should have India at the top-most position in athletics.