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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympics, Bindra, "yeh dil maange more"!

Like I hope most of my fellow-Indians, I am prouder and happier than I can say that Abhinav Bindra has ended our 108-year long gold-medal drought at the Olympics. I can only wish him the very best of things that life has to offer, along with my thanks and my gratitude.
However (alas, I always think of 'however'!):
1) I wish and pray and daydream that we might get a few more medals yet at Beijing,
2) I rue the fact that we shall probably never (at least in my lifetime) as a nation climb to those dizzying heights where we can be called among the five best sporting nations in the world - and never stop blaming the government for it!
3) One newspaper that I read reported this morning that an sms message currently doing the rounds reads "Abhinav Bindra is the real AB; the rest are all forgettable". Very typically Indian, that: as soon as one of us does something good and great, we need to forget everything that others have done, and we imagine that praising someone requires insulting someone else! (and that saying something like that makes me sound clever - though I might be a complete nonentity in comparison with all the ABs I know...)


dhhe2001 said...


I fully agree with you that Abhinav has the right to be praised in absolute, not by degrading any other personality. We are no doubt far from the heights, but at least we have started to climb the steps. With the kind of sporting mess we are in, surely lone achievements like this are sure to be treasured in an almost fanatical fashion.


Ritambhar said...

Like my fellow countrymen, I felt elated at this singular achievement of Abhinav Bindra. I am sure other gold medalists will follow some day but none can change the fact that Abhinav showed us the way. His calm and poised nature is very praiseworthy and it reflects too in his personal blog entry after his win (Read http://abhinavbindra.blogspot.com). I noticed that India has been on the ascendancy in 'shooting' for some years now. We have been 'winning' at various world stages for some time now. This was a perfect culmination of this growing competency. The task now becomes harder as we eye more golds in this area at the highest stage - The Olympics. It goes without saying that India should now develop proper infrastructure for training since some potential has been unearthed in this area.
Another 'non-cricket' sport that India has recently been doing well in is 'Golf'. I hope it gets reintroduced in the Olympics soon.

SleepyPea said...

Hullo Suvro da.
Not having any access to TV or an immediate news-source, I had no idea about India's first ever Olympic Gold Medal in an individual sport in over a century (!).
A very good acquaintance of mine and I met at the bus-stop yesterday, and got chatting, when she said "Oh, India's got a Gold medal at the Olympics."
I glared at her and said, "Stop joking. That's not funny."
She repeated. "No, really. India won a Gold Medal."
My eyes sort of lit up, the light went out again when my mind pondered on the sheer impossibility of it, and I asked her rather tentatively, "Are you sure? In what?"
And she replied, "Swimming, I think..." and when she saw the look of absolute increduility in my eyes, she said "...or maybe it was diving."
I sighed, and said "No. There's no possibility of that happening for another century. Next you'll be saying it was in gymnastics!"
But she insisted, and then I enquired, "...was it in archery?"
Guha asked a little more hopefully, 'Or maybe shooting?" And my acquaintance said, "Oh, maybe so....but I do know that India won a Gold."
The funny thing is that I was in hysterics by the end of our coversation because I badly wanted to believe that India had won a Gold but didn't think it possible.
A friend in the eve' texted me confirming the news given to me by my very good acquaintance (I couldn't check anywhere else not having internet access at home).

But it makes me happy and sad and there's that indifference somewhere as well. As a kid I remember watching the Olympics with goggling interest and excitement on Doordarshan. The 100 metres sprint, swimming and diving were my favourites alongwith some other events (including, of course gymnastics). And I still remember how often and how intensely (and ignorantly!) I'd dream that India's name would be at the top of the medal tally some day.
Now of course I'm plain embarrassed when people talk about the Olympics. I keep absolutely quiet and pretend that it isn't even happening (as if that can make a difference!) or that I'm not in the slightest bit interested or that I don't care whether and where India is in the whole medal tally.

No India is far, far, far away from ever making it in the top sporting nations, and although all people know what some of the reasons are, I can't help list out some things like
1) the petty politicking,
2) complete lack of infrastructure,
3) complete apathy on the part of the government,
4) lack of training (look at the average age of swimmers or divers or even runners at the international level)and proper trainers,
5) a lack of nurturing of talent, ability, aptitude and interest which is there to be seen in children by the primary school level (training should ideally start by the time a kid is 4 or 5 -insofar as swimming, diving or athletics is concerned),
6) an almost complete lack of interest, at the national level, in any other sports apart from a maniacal craze regarding cricket (and no, it wouldn't help an inch if cricket didn't have sponsors), 7) a complete lack of certainty regarding some financial security if the sportsman decides to dedicate his/her life to sports (there are some of ugly stories where sportsmen, who have not been blessed with rich families, have lived in absolute poverty - forgotten by the nation and the government until an obit tucked away in the corner appears in the paper)...and I could go on, but I'll end my list here.
I am horribly sceptical of India even making it in the top 20 sporting nations in the next 40 years. But for now - I too am enormously grateful to Abhinav Bindra.

In some ways I don't even consciously know why it matters so much to me (or to anyone else) that India do well in sports, but it does! I can think of related reasons but not the direct ones.

The other rather (bad) joke that Guha and I have been cracking is that India should boycott the Olympics on political grounds every time till it can send a team of some force.
On another note, this year I have been honestly disinterested in the Olympics what with it being held in China. It has left me feeling deeply uncomfortable - but this shouldn't be a part of this comment at all!

P.S: What does the AB sms message mean, anyway?! Is it a reference to Amitabh Bachchan? I have no idea what it is supposed to mean. But how typically Indian to bludgeon all others apart from a new hero!
Thank you Suvro da, and sorry for rambling.

ginger candy said...

Kudos to Abhinav Bindra for breaking the century old jinx of not winning a single gold medal in any individual event in Olympics by an Indian. He has made me feel proud and happy, and I wish him all the best for his future. However, I am appalled at the way state governments are falling over each other to reward Bindra as if that would make up for all the negligence and apathy they have showed for every kind of sport (ironically, including the sport event itself in which Bindra earned a gold medal). From whatever little I have read about Bindra, I am in no doubt that he is a very wealthy man, and he certainly does not 'need' those handsome cash awards which the State Governments are eager to shower upon him. Instead, the individual State Government can use the money in building a new excellent sports facility center and dedicate that center in Bindra's name. But no, they won't do that: They shall do everything possible to ensure that the young turf of sportsmen in India still dwell in the abyss that they are destined to be, whereas the already affluent cricketers get Porsche sedans for scoring a century in a final match. The once Sports Minister of West Bengal, when impugned for the lack of sports infrastructure in the state, angrily retorted back saying "Gadha pitiye ki aar ghoda kora jay?" (Rough English translation- How can donkeys be possibly turned into horses?). It's both sad as well as hilarious to see the same ministers fawning to meet the likes of Bindra and others, and claiming to the Press that they didn't, even for a moment, doubt that success shall come by.

Unless the Ministry changes it's viewpoint towards sports and sportsmen in India, I am afraid to say, new Bindras shall not surface easily, if at all they do. Of course, we shall get a lot of glowing faces to see in T.V advertisements, and yes, you got it- they would be the cricketers, who inspite of earning a fortune in every single match, are consummate failures when it comes to rank India as the consistent number one among the few cricket playing nations, say for a stretch of one year.


Gerald Ford said...


I am really glad to here that India got a gold medal. I always wondered why a country as large as India didn't win more, but based on comments here, I think I see why. I do hope that Abhinav's win will encourage more young athletes to try, in spite of government apathy.

Cheers to India!

ANWESHA said...

Dear Sir

We,the Indians are indeed very proud of Abhinav Bindra.But the saddest part is we cheer the victories of somebody else but never ourselves want to go to that position.
We are easily satisfied with our dreams of being engineers and doctors but never do we dream of getting a gold medal in the olympics.
That is why probably it is the first gold medal in the individual catagory after a hundred and eight years.
I guess we will have to wait for another century for another gold medal to come in India, unless Indians start dreaming big.