There has been a lot of talk about India’s dominating performance at the 12th South Asian Games, about how the hosts have done well in almost every event with little competition to provide them with any threat for the Gold.
However, Indian squash ace Saurav Ghosal, who won a Bronze in the Individual category and a Gold in the Team category, has a different view on the Indian performance at the event. The 29-year-old felt that the South Asian Games provides a great opportunity for several youngsters to play for India, which he felt was a massive privilege for many to wear the India shirt and represent the country.
“It is the perfect stage to ‘blood’ the next generation of superstars early in their careers, so that they go to the Asians or Olympics with some experience. Being thrown into the deep end at bigger events, with so much riding on them, can make or break athletes’ careers,” Ghosal wrote in his column.
“Take the squash team for example. Sixteen-year-old, Sunayna Kuruvilla, representing India at the senior level for the first time, won the gold in the women’s team event with a 3-2 win over her Pakistan opponent.
This will give her enormous confidence to push on as a player!
Nineteen-year-old Kush Kumar played one of the best matches of his life to win the deciding match against Pakistan and win the gold medal in the men’s event. Can you imagine how good he must have felt about himself and what that could do to his career going forward? The experience of winning at the highest level is priceless and its effects cannot be discounted,” he added.
Citing the example of shooter Gagan Narang, Ghosal said that while he couldn't win Gold, the competition gave him an idea as to where he requires improvement ahead of the upcoming series of events.
“Olympic medallist Gagan Narang is a good example. I’m sure he’s been working really hard in preparation for the Rio Olympics later this year. However, he couldn’t produce his best scores in the individual event in Guwahati and had to settle for Bronze. I doubt he considers that a disaster, and nor should he. It gives him a good assessment of where he stands in his preparation and what he needs to work on in the next few months to be in the best possible shape in Rio. I’m sure this will hold him in good stead for when he really needs it,” he wrote.
Several top Indian athletes like Saina Nehwal, Inderjeet Singh etc had pulled out of the event, but Ghosal felt that by opting out of the event, it would have deprived the smaller sports a chance to grow and feel recognised.
“Pulling out would deprive the so-called ‘smaller’ sports the necessary exposure to grow. It would starve them of the recognition they rightfully deserve. When else does the average Indian viewer watch weight-lifting, swimming or shooting live on TV or read about these athletes in the papers?”, he further added.