Rio Olympics 2016 India, Shooting: Jitu Rai might be out but expecting him to win Gold is a good sign for Indian sports
With Jitu Rai’s elimination from the men’s 50m pistol event, it became evident that India will have a daunting task ahead of themselves if they are to win a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in shooting. But there were a lot of other positives that came out from Jitu’s performances in his two events at the Games.
For the past 36 years, India has been facing a tough time in conquering the much eluded Olympic gold medal. The hockey team used to make sure that India would at least come back from the Games with gold. But it was back in 1980 that the hockey team last won the Games. Since then, the onus has been on athletes and shooters to bring glory to the nation. However, if you look at this from a broader perspective, it means that India, as a nation, has started expecting lesser and lesser from its Olympic contingent.
But when we take a look at Jitu Rai’s case at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the first thing that strikes us is that people around the nation had high expectations from the 28-year old shooter. These expectations did lead the shooter to a good performance in his two events – he finished 8th in the men’s 10m air pistol event and 12th in the men’s 50m pistol event. The shooter has won nearly every title in world competitions which are conducted by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). Winning an Olympic medal would have been the icing on his cake.
However, things do not always turn out the way we want them to. While India is mourning Jitu’s surprise exclusion from the final round of the 50m pistol event, there is also a section of fans who have realised that Jitu gave them a new belief in their athletes. We all expected Jitu to not only clear the qualification round but were also predicting the colour of his medal. These are some invigorating signs which can help India’s sport scenario take off for higher pastures.
We all know that with a population of over 1.2 billion, the nation does not have a shortage in any sector of life. The grandest event also plays a huge part in inspiring young people to take up the sport – we have seen Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Abhinav Bindra inspire hundreds of young shooters to aim for a medal at the Games. But the real problem lies in transforming these ‘hundreds’ into ‘thousands’.
Jitu Rai is one of these hundreds who are aiming to attract thousands to take up a sport, any sport – not just shooting. Jitu tried his best to book a spot in the final round but only missed by 2 crucial points. Reports suggest that there was a fair amount of wind at the shooting range when Jitu was finishing his round of shots – which led to the shooter getting only 88 points in his last series. Also, the shooter only had two minutes of the 90 minutes of regulation time remaining and had to fire three shots. He took the shots hurriedly and that made the difference.
As Indians, a decent number of us do not expect our athletes to win gold medals at the Olympic Games but we always expect the cricket team or Virat Kohli to score more. But two things have certainly indicated that these expectations from the Olympics can increase over time: Jitu Rai’s performances and the support he has got during the event. This can be reflected if all of us introspect and ask ourselves as to when was the last time we expected someone to win a medal at the Games?
Therefore, Jitu should be proud of what he has achieved even if he failed to finish on the podium, at least he has motivated the nation to dream big again.