What's the story?
Minister of State of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju has said that India is 'the size of a continent, we should be talking about figuring in top 5.'
India's first appearance at the Summer Olympics was back in 1990. The nation has participated in every edition since the Summer Olympic Games in 1920. Indian athletes have won a total of 28 medals at the global extravaganza. Of these, 9 are gold, 7 Silver, and 12 Bronze. The India national field hockey team have won 8 of the 9 gold medals, 6 of which were in successive editions between 1928–1956.
India won a total of 6 medals (2 Silver and 4 Bronze) at the 2012 London Olympics but Indian athletes returned with just 2 medals (1 Silver and 1 Bronze) at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The nation is fielding an extremely strong contingent for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and experts are hoping that the nation will a touch double digits medal haul for the first time in history.
The heart of the matter
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju announced on February 20 that the government is planning to launch a Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) for Junior athletes in the country. TOPS is a highly successful and critically appreciated scheme of the government - that was found in 2014 - and helps India's top senior athletes by providing financial assistance.
Rijiju, while speaking at the book launch of 'Dreams of a Billion India and the Olympic Games,' said (as per India Today):
"From this year, we are going to start junior TOPS scheme, so that means we will start funding the junior, at the age of 12, 13, 14. The parents need not worry about taking care of the child who is interested in sports. If we see potential the government will definitely take care of them."
The Sports Minister stressed on how he plans to make India a sporting powerhouse. Contrary to the popular dialogue of India winning just a few medals at the Olympics this time, an optimistic Rijiju further added:
"The mindset of society is reflected in your action. You can not blame anyone for India not being able to perform in the Olympics. The size of India is not suitable to talk about 3-4 medals. India is of the size of a continent, we should be talking about figuring in top 5. It is changing, it will change."
There have been many Structural reforms already in Rijiju's tenure as the Sports Minister. Other excellent steps taken by the government include starting the Khelo India University Games and the Khelo India Winter Games. Speaking on the KIUG, the Sports Minister further stated:
"Sport is a passion for me. I do not want to talk about my history but the job in my hand is to ensure that India must become a global sporting powerhouse. This is the single target that I have. To this date, can you imagine we never had University games in India? University games are the ones where you bring out the champion. All Olympic champions are from universities. We have a School Games Federation in India but we never had School Games. So the structural reform change is going to have a revolutionary effect."
The Indian contingent failed to live up to the high expectations in 2016. Out of the 117 Indian athletes, only PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik returned home with medals. The Sports Ministry has been quite optimistic considering the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020 and also brought about many promising programs to ensure India produces champions in the near future.
A path-breaking performance in Tokyo would certainly motivate the young athletes in the country to start pursuing a career in sports with intent.Published 21 Feb 2020, 12:19 IST