Winter Olympics 2010 – A usual dry summer for India
Summer is fast approaching and the scorching heat can already be felt with a searing intensity. At such a time, if my mind can get even a glimpse of the lovely and affable winters, it would feel like a bed of roses with the coziest, cuddliest of cushions just waiting to be collapsed upon! Till the limit of realm tends to infinity, I cannot see this dream turning into reality, but I figured I can at least get myself the warm and mellifluous feel of cool weather by writing something on the Winter Olympics. Now that might sound totally bizarre on the surface, but just think about it – the ice-loaded platform (for playing Ice Hockey), snowy hills (for skiing) and beautiful winter resorting. Aren’t you feeling all cool and shivery already? There was all this and more at the Winter Olympics 2010 held at Vancouver, Canada from 12th to 28th February. To throw some light on what the Winter Olympics are all about, here’s a gist – the event is a major international multi-sport event which hosts games specific to the winter season (snow and ice) like Skiing, Ice Hockey, luge, Skating, etc. It was the 21st time since its onset in 1924 that the winter Olympics were held this year and the event is held at a frequency of once every 4 years. Though fewer countries participate in the winter edition of Olympics than the summer edition, the winter Olympics event has its own thrills and excitement. The Winter Olympics have become a very lucrative source of income for the International Olympics Committee (IOC) owing to the increasing interest of television companies and corporate sponsors in the event.
The Winter Olympics ‘10 saw the participation of around 2600 athletes from 82 nations competing in 86 events in 15 disciplines. The USA bagged the most number of Golds with a tally of 37, followed by Germany (30), Canada (26), Norway (23) and Austria (16). Now talking about India, there were 3 participants competing in 3 sports – Alpine skiing, Cross country skiing and Luge. They ended up winning no medals, which was no whopping surprise, really. In Alpine skiing Men’s singles, Jamyang Namgial finished 81st, Tashi Lundup ended up with Rank no. 83 in 15 km freestyle in Cross country skiing and Shiva Keshavan was ranked 29th in the Luge Men’s Singles event. All these competitors fared poorer compared to India’s performance in the 2006 Winter Olympics, though the participants were different except for Shiva Keshavan, who had finished 25th. As far as my poor memory can be trusted, India is yet to open its medal-winning account in this version of the Olympic games. This can be attributed to comparably low snowfall in India and the fact that not much ice formation is seen in the hot and dry landscape of the country. Now I am saying this because I cannot directly point out India’s inefficiency and ineptness. And let’s not even talk about sending our athletes to foreign locations to help them practice better and enhance their chances of winning.
At the first glance, it sounds really funny to know that it took 5 lawyers to purchase a new luge for Shiva Keshavan after his previous luge – held together by duct tape and screws – broke during training. He has represented India twice before in the 1998 and 2006 Winter Olympics and this time was the first time that he received financial aid from the Ministry of Sports (USD 20,000) apart from USD 9700 contributed by the 5 lawyers, and that too was solely because of the bronze medal he won at the Asian Championships. Man, what do these ignited minds of sports officials think? I guess participation in such a prestigious event as the Winter Olympics is nothing but a perfunctory act to them. It would be totally justified if India had no representative at these games rather than having a few who are forced to deal with charges of maladroitness and unskillfulness just because they do not have enough support of any kind. To add to this, as a tradition, athletes competing at the Winter Olympics receive no financial support from Indian Olympics Association!
By no means can it be said that the Winter Olympics is a petty event. However, in Keshavan’s words, there are many sponsors who dont even recognize the Winter Olympics. Keshavan used to do a waiter’s job to make his ends meet after returning to the Himalayas from the 1998 Winter Olympics and at that time he was the youngest player ever (16 years old) to compete in luge. There can be no more damning indictment of our sports culture than this sorry state of affairs. I could not have imagined such ignominy befalling a national sports star even in my worst nightmares. Guys, I might not have been able to make this post interesting for you but it is my sincere request to you all to spread this story of Shiva Keshavan, the forgotten Winter Olympics competitor, as far as you possibly can. I’ll always be thankful to Sportskeeda for building a platform to help us bring forth such pitiable facts about Indian sports’ past and present.