By Jenson Rajkumar
When hurdlers across the world are practicing with hurdles on the track, their Indian counterparts are hoping to overcome hurdles of a very different kind, the one that it faces from the Indian Government. Athletes in India are only remembered when the Olympic Games or the Asian games draw nearer. Otherwise the Indian Government keeps the list of athletes in their cupboards.
So as usual, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the athletes will be more on the focus as the summer games in London draws nearer. Have they been in exile since Beijing and Guangzhou? The main culprit for this is the lack of focus of the Indian Government towards sports apart from cricket.
The positive thing is, from the past 3-4 years, Olympic sports (which includes each and everything apart from cricket) has been on the rise in terms of the attention given to them. There are many boxers, wrestlers and many talented sportspersons have been given financial benefits, sponsorships etc. this will certainly help in motivating these sportspersons. But are these enough?
To some extent, these are good. But the scene including both the Indian athletes and the Government is very short lived. Whenever an athlete comes back from an athletics meet victorious, they will be given a rapturous welcome, which they deserve. Cash, Government jobs, awards etc. etc. will be announced, athletes will enjoy their moment of fame. And after a few months, there will be utter silence and those athletes did their country proud, will be kept in the dark. With the exception of a few lucky ones who’ll get some advertisement contracts and sponsorships, many of the names will be forgotten and it will be another case of has been.
In India, there is belief that if you are going to make sports as your profession then you have to do it in cricket. I’ve seen many small kids, after school, going to the ground with a cricket kit bigger than them. Many of you must have seen it. But how many of us have seen kids with a running and going to the track, or even with a football stud and going to the football field. Sad but true, but these are very rare. This shows the lack of attention given to sports other than cricket. The result can be seen in the Olympic Games, Indian contingent will be always small.
Even if the focus is given to other sports, it will be given to only a few people. Why only a few? Why not in hundreds, thousands? The answer will always be the same to questions of this type, inadequate facilities and budget problems. It is irrational, completely irrational. What about the things which has always been promised in the budget? How much is the Government going to lose if they are to lay a new track for track and field athletes? Even if they don’t build a stadium, they can at least put a track. Even a tiny country has produced many outstanding athletes, and they are starting to dominate the world in track and field. What is the reason? Proper scouting and grooming of raw talents. When they can do it, why not India, which is many times bigger in terms of size and population.
It is appalling to know that there are talents in every nook and corner of the country, yet they are not being scouted. It is always a case of ifs and buts. As an Indian, I want my country to be represented on the Olympic map and do it in style. If only there are many eyes on other sports (not only cricket), then it would have been a different story. I wish the athletes who will represent the country at the upcoming summer Games all the best. Do us proud.