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Why Piers Morgan is right - We should be embarrassed with our Olympic performance

The least we can do is be embarrassed. Embarrassed that year after year we have been able to achieve nothing substantial.

Feature 24 Aug 2016, 19:56 IST
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18:  Pusarla V Sindhu of India celebrates winning a point during the Women's Badminton Singles Semi-final against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 4 on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
PV Sindhu picked up the only silver medal for India at Rio

If you have been on social media a lot, you couldn’t have missed the eccentric Piers Morgan tweeting that India should be embarrassed celebrating two ‘losing medals’. Morgan, one of the most controversial celebrities on Twitter, is known for his maverick comments and tweets that he rather ‘shamelessly’ imposes upon the world.

From trolling his fellow European countries for not winning as many medals as Great Britain to claiming that silver and bronze were ‘worthless’ medals, and that the legendary Muhammed Ali was more racist than Donald Trump, Piers Morgan is the full package of controversial comments.

Also read: Bronze medallist Sakshi Malik comes home to a hero's welcome  

This is what Piers had to say following India’s ‘wild’ celebration whilst receiving their medallists Sakshi Mallik and PV Sindhu back home.

The Indian ‘Twitter contingent’ were naturally unhappy with the snide remarks that Morgan had to offer and came back with burns of their own

Notwithstanding the fact that Piers Morgan has no business taking a dig at India’s gold medal tally, the sad, unfortunate truth is that he has got a point there. As a nation, we should definitely be embarrassed that despite such varied diversity and population, we have come to the point that we are happy with our tally of an Olympic bronze and silver.

But instead of introspecting within themselves and realising the fact that this is indeed a major embarrassment, a majority of the Twitterati chose to ‘troll’ Piers Morgan back, an effort which sums up the sentiment of the nation.

But why shouldn’t we be embarrassed? Why shouldn’t we be embarrassed about the fact that there were no officials present to provide OP Jaisha refreshments during her marathon race? Why shouldn’t we be embarrassed by the Twitter mistakes our ‘honourable’ sports minister Mr Vijay Goel keeps on making in his quest to show his support for the athletes?

Oh and not to mention the fact that he was warned by Rio officials that his accreditation would be revoked if unaccredited people accompanying him did not end their “aggressive and rude” behaviour. Isn’t that embarrassing enough? Why shouldn’t we be embarrassed about the fact that India’s Chief Medical Officer Mr Pawandeep Singh, son of IOA Vice-President Tarlochan Singh, is a radiologist whose standard response to most complaints of injuries is a dose of combiflam? Or that a Telangana Minister wants to give PV Sindhu a ‘better coach’?

Not the right amount of progress in the Indian sporting environment

For years, decades rather, we have been talking about better coaching and better infrastructure. Governments have come and gone, promises have been made and broken and yet we are still as backward we were 20 years ago.

There is no proper system in place and when we had a chance to really move in the right direction, during the time we hosted the Commonwealth Games, unabashed, shameless corrupt officials ensured that we were back to square one.

The unfortunate truth is that the two medals we won were despite the system, not because of it.

Pullela Gopichand
Pullela Gopichand has worked wonders for Indian badminton

Pullela Gopichand runs his own academy. The credit for the development of badminton in the last decade can widely be accredited to him. When the government allotted him a piece of land for his efforts, he made a top class academy and the results are there for all to see.

If a single person with Rs. 8 crore in his hands could transform a sport so drastically, it is mind-boggling as to what we can achieve with the right investment in facility and coaching. I refuse to believe that a country that houses 1.2 billion ladies and gentlemen is short of talent.

And yet, year after year we fall short of the commitment we make once in four years. The promises are forgotten until another four years pass, and then it is time to wake up, make false promises and sleep again.

Why should we not be embarrassed?

I have the highest level of respect for the athletes who train hard year after year despite the glaring holes in the system. The hardships they face are like running a race where you deserve a head start but end up getting a handicap.

And is the common man not to blame? In a country obsessed with Olympic medals (well, we’re obsessed with everything, to be honest), how many parents actually encourage their children to take up sports apart from cricket as a career option, and not to be a doctor or an engineer? Agreed that the remuneration is not as sound as it should be, but how long can that be used as an excuse?

Every year we hear about the gut-wrenching stories of our spirited athletes. Stories of people like Dipa Karmakar who trained using a scooter seat. Stories of athletes who are shamed and ridiculed for attempting to make their country proud.

The least we can do is be embarrassed. Embarrassed that year after year we have been able to achieve nothing substantial. Maybe embarrassment will lead to action someday.

But today, at least we can start by accepting the fact that we lag far behind, and feel shameful for it.

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