TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020: The Way Forward for Indian Sports

So, here we are after the end of Tokyo Olympics 2020. First of all I would like to congratulate each and every athlete who represented our country at the platform, irrespective of the fact whether they were able to get on the podium or not. This Olympics turned out to be our best season as we ended up winning 7 medals in total. This season will go down in history, made even special by the gold medal in the very last event of our campaign. But, there is a more intensive and deep discussion needed on it… so let’s magnify our campaign.

India’s performance Sport by Sport

HOCKEY: Hockey is a game, perhaps the only game other than cricket where India has dominated the world. But that story is history now. After winning 8 Golds, 2 Bronze and 1 Silver in Olympics till 1980, our Hockey had a downfall like ‘Fall of Rome’, after which dominance was a distant dream, we were not even able to remain competitive in the game anymore. The main reason was arrival of astroturf grounds, for which our players were not habituated. The rise of Indian Cricket further pushed this sport into a backseat.

But all of this changed suddenly this year. Men’s Hockey Team broke all the shackles and won the Bronze medal, when maybe no one was expecting anything from them. Throughout their campaign, they displayed sheer consistency and skill. Other than the one game against Australia, they won all the matches in the group stage as well as the quarter final. They lost in a tough game against Belgium in the semis, but made sure that come better against Germany in the Bronze Medal match.

Our Women’s Team struggled initially in the tournament and had just 2 wins in their 5 games and barely reached the quarters. But, then they came up with the biggest so called ‘UPSET’ of the tournament when they defeated the group topper and unbeaten champion team Australia. After that, they lost in the semis to Argentina and then the Bronze medal match as well to Britain. But it was the first time when the whole country was watching Women’s Hockey when a Cricket match was also going on, that in itself is no less than a medal. This is a spark in the right direction and I am very optimistic that our performance from this point will only be on upswing in both men’s and women’s Hockey.

Here, it would be highly unfair if we don’t mention the role of NAVIN PATNAIK and his Odisha Government. Those who don’t know, it was the Odisha Government only which sponsored both the Hockey Teams. In addition to that, he has placed many world class stadiums and is also hosting big international tournaments to provide our teams with the much needed experience and exposure. The world’s largest hockey stadium (BIRSA MUNDA STADIUM) is under construction and Odisha is set to host the upcoming Hockey World Cup in 2023 as well. A big shout out to him for doing so much without much shouting or publicity like some ‘big leaders’. I hope other states also learn from it.

Naveen Patnaik Finds Prominent Mention in Parliamentary Committee Report on  Tokyo Olympics

BADMINTON: Our contingent in Badminton was led by P.V. SINDHU. After, her silver medal at the previous outing, everyone was expecting Gold from her. It also seemed on cards for quite a while, but in the semi-final match, her rival Tai Tsu-Ying was in a red hot form and after that Sindhu had to satisfy with a Bronze only, defeating He Bing Jiao. India has won medals in Badminton for three consecutive Olympics now and it is definitely one of our strongholds at the world level. I strongly hope that Sindhu is able to get her hands to Gold in the next edition and we also come up with some more medal winning players for future.

WRESTLING: Wrestling is one of our strongholds as almost every year since 2008, we have been winning a medal in this sport. This year too, Ravi Dahiya went on to win a Silver, which was a big achievement. Expectations were very high from Bajrang Punia too, he too didn’t disappoint and despite losing in the semis, made sure that he is bringing a Bronze. But, we also had many disappointments as 5 others missed out, especially in the case of Vinesh Phogat. Dipak Punia missed the medal just by a whisker for a matter of seconds. Here, I would say that Wrestling is one of India’s biggest strength and special focus should be laid on it. Because, if we utilize our potential fully, we can bring around 10-12 medals at stake in a single go.

BOXING: In Boxing, our main name was Mary Kom, a legend from this field. Despite being older than many of her competitors, she gave a tough fight but eventually lost in the quarter finals. Even though, she doesn’t calls it her end but I honestly think that her best is well behind her now and the main reason for me saying it is her age. But, Lovlina Borgohain ensured that our contingent doesn’t come out medal-less and won a Bronze. She was really desperate to win gold but we all are proud of her Bronze also. I hope, in this sport we are able to bring up some more young medal-winning prospects

ARCHERY: India was having high hopes on Deepika Kumari as well as on Atanu Das, both of them started off very well, but unfortunately lost out in Quarters. Here, we need to be a bit more concerned because for a second straight Olympics we have not won even a single medal in this game. This comes despite winning several world championships and holding high global rankings. Something is missing, which is preventing us from winning the medal at the highest level.

SHOOTING: In this game, our two main contenders were 19 year olds SAURABH CHOWDHARY and MANU BHAKER. But, pressure got the better of them, which they themselves accepted, and they along with others from the team got eliminated. Manu in particular was very unlucky in the 10m individual match where her pistol broke down in the middle and much of her time got wasted and she lost by a close margin. I do hope that both these young guns learn from this experience and come up as medal winning prospects in the next Olympics. Also, this is one more game where multiple medals can be brought at stake if we nurture young and capable talents and teach them specifically to counter pressure of playing at global stage.

Tokyo 2020 mascots | TOKYO 2020 for KIDS - Tokyo 2020 Education Programme

WEIGHTLIFTING: After a long time, after KARNAM MALESHWARI in 2000 to be precise…India won a medal in this sport when MIRABAI CHANU won the silver medal for us on the very first day of the Olympics. Her story is itself a big motivation and I hope that we are able to come up with more talents in this game as well.

JAVELIN THROW: Well, I never thought honestly that I would be talking about this sport before the start of the games. But, every projection was proved wrong by History-Maker NEERAJ CHOPRA. His record-throw of 87m ensured that no one doesn’t even comes close and we easily get our hands on GOLD after 13 years (effectively 12 because it is being termed Tokyo Olympics 2020). His first throw itself being more than 87, brought all his opponents under pressure to match the score due to which they committed more mistakes. I would like to thank him with all my heart for the moment of life Other than this, his friendly equation and statement towards ARSHAD NADEEM is a good response to some Jingoistic minds of our country.

OTHERS: Now, I know it is not possible to talk about every sport and every athlete who participated at the event. But there were many more who gave special performances. Whether it was BHAVANI DEVI winning the first match for India in Fencing or whether it was MANIKA BATRA and SHARATH KAMAL giving such tough fights to much stronger opponents than them in Table-Tennis. KAMALPREET KAUR finished at 6th and was very close in clinching a medal for India in DISCUSS THROW, if not for some tactical glitch. Special mention would be going to ADITI ASHOK as well, who missed the medal just by a whisker and it is really really appreciating to see India coming close to medals in something like Golf whose even ‘G’ is not known to many of us. We also created an Asian record at the 4*400m relay with our contingent of MUHAMMAD ANAS, NOAH NIRMAL TOM, AROKIA RAJIV and AMOJ JACOB. While, FOUAAD MIRZA made us reach Equestrian final for the first time and with ARVIND LAL JAT SINGH and ARVIND SINGH, we reached semifinals for the first time in rowing. NETHRA KUMANAN was our first player at the Olympics for sailing and she put on a good fight.

WATCH: The 'Gold'en moment India will cherish for long

What Should be the Way Forward?

  1. TARGETED FOCUSSING: A very nice opinion, that experts have pointed out is that each state should be targeting-cum-adopting a particular sport. Here, by adopting I mean; that in the particular state there should be world-class facilities regarding that sport in abundance, high-level talent-hunts should be carried out nation wide for the selected ones to be trained in that state and finally, that state should be sponsoring that particular sport and should be getting extra incentive from the center based on its performance. Not much, at the start, let’s just start with 5 main sports, which can fetch us high number of medals; Wrestling for Haryana, Archery for Jharkhand, Boxing for North-East, Shooting and Weightlifting. I didn’t mentioned Hockey and Badminton as nice work is already being done on that front. So, let’s make our roadmap for the next PARIS Olympics and here the measure of success should be one and only one thing … MEDALS.
  2. LETTING GO: It may sound harsh, but in India we just tend to hold on with people for longer than usual. It was also seen in our Cricket team when our senior legendary players were literally dragging on their careers. To be very frank I don’t see any reason of going with SANIA MIRZA and MARY KOM at this age. Nothing against them and all due respects to their individual achievements, but for the greater good, we have to bring in young and fresh talents and NO ONE should be an automatic selection. If one carefully looks at the contingents of big teams, one would find very few similar faces in two consecutive editions. The only approach in mind should be to select the player who is the ‘Best Possible’ prospect for the medal in the country irrespective of age and experience.
  3. GOVERNMENT: Though, one should not expect much from this side, but it is also a hard fact that one can’t win medals without investing huge amounts of money in the sports infrastructure. All the countries that have won medals have invested huge amounts as well. We have the example of Odisha, whose sincere efforts for Hockey has brought drastic changes in our results. On the other hand we see cost cutting from KHELO INDIA scheme in the Budget. Also, there should be some consistency in ministers and bureaucrats, because average tenure of a sports minister from the last 10-15 years has been just 1.5-2 years, which makes nice reforms difficult.
  4. MINDSET: Just cheering for the teams is not enough. We have to encourage our children to take at least one sport. Even if they don’t make careers out of it, sports offers many things to learn and character building. People who see male sportsperson as ‘Unemployed’ and ‘FISSADDI’ and raise eyebrows over female sportsperson’s shorts and sportive hugs should be sent to exile. And, hypocrisy should be disowned, we can’t just clap for our women’s teams and then end up saying “Your board exam is coming” when our daughter asks for hockey stick.
  5. SUPPORT: Our support for our teams should not be limited only for Olympics. We should be supporting, cheering and watching them throughout the year, whenever they are out there to represent our country. And, I hope you know that here sports doesn’t mean just Cricket. Also, Cricket shouldn’t be blamed because it has made its own way. Other sports will also get the support and limelight when the results come up. I mean you can’t expect someone to sit in front of screen knowing 100% that India will lose.
Tokyo Olympic 2020 Opening Ceremony: UK time & date, how to watch live -  Radio Times

Conclusion: So, how should we rate our performance?

See, if we just go by the number of medals, it is straightaway our best ever performance at this event. But, I would like to look at it from a different point of view and the sole reason of me doing that would be my desire to see my country at its best. First of all, if anyone thinks that we will easily get to double-digit medals in the next Olympics, then he is wrong. We should remember that we also won 6 medals at the 2012 London Olympics. Going by that logic, we should have won double-digit medals at the 2016 Olympics, but we all know what happened and how we were all left scrambling with just 2. We have to decide that till how long will we continue to satisfy ourselves with 6-7 medals, I mean USA and China win that many medals per day. Our competition should be from the topmost teams, not with the bottommost ones. Our aim requires that the points mentioned above are implemented.

So, at the end I would like to congratulate all the players who represented our country at this event, whether they won or not. The wins belongs to them and the loss belongs to all of us…but I salute them all from the very bottom of the heart. One thing that stood out for me was that people were cheering our team by waking up at 4am and even watching the games they didn’t even knew anything about. All this points out towards our Sports-Enthusiasm and there is nothing in this country…mark my words…absolutely nothing that brings our country together with so much perfection. On that note I would wrap up hoping that our transition from Sports Loving Nation to Sports Playing Nation goes on in full swing. And yes, Cricket coming up in 2028 Olympics would well be the Cherry on top.


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