The 2016 Summer Olympics are to be held from August 5 to 21 at Rio de Janeiro. The hopes of Indians would be to see their sportsmen excel in the XXXI Olympiad with their stars bagging 25-30 medals.
After the success at 2010 Commonwealth Games, held in India which fielded more than 400 athletes, we do really hope to bag medals at the next Olympics provided the sportsmen get all necessary support – be it financial, facilities, foreign exposure – from the Indian Government, local clubs, corporates and sponsors.
Determination and sweat would indeed bring medals to the country. But we need to analyse the problems and the prospects that our athletes face, in order to achieve better.
The problem areas
No mechanism to bring up talent from the grass roots: If the number of competitions and the frequency of competitions are increased at village level/district level/national level, there will be more chances of finding talent.
That is, efforts should be stepped up especially as the last Olympics had proved that we can show results and prospects are bright. The Indian Olympic Association had sent 83 athletes to the 2012 London Games who took part in 13 sports, and that was the largest contingent sent to an Olympic Games.
Lack of resources for infrastructure and training: Funds from the Indian Government along with private sponsors and Indian corporates investing on sports played a significant role in India winning 6 medals (two silver and four bronze) which is by far the best performance by India at the Olympic Games.
We cannot expect a change overnight. It is a process, which would help India taste success gradually. Larger allocations have to be made to disciplines like shooting, boxing, wrestling, badminton, archery and weightlifting that have better chances of winning medals by India. For this, the professional bodies need to collaborate with private sector players.
Loopholes in providing for a competitive edge: There have been many players who could not train as hard because there were no capable and competitive players to practice with. The lack of a competitive edge has been a drag on their efficiency. In this respect, international exposure has a definite role to play. The organisers and sponsors need to pay attention to this vital aspect.
The prospective areas
A bright future for shooting section: The Indian shooting team seems promising with their last performance at Glasgow Asian Games. With the victories of these shooters in recent times at the World Championships and World Cups, it seems that India has a bright future.
Jitu Rai has been World No. 1 in 10m Air Pistol, while Gagan Narang, Vijay Kumar and Sanjeev Rajput have been winning at World Cups in the men’s category. Among women there is Heena Sidhu, who has been doing well. Also young faces like Malaika Goel, in 10m Air Pistol, Apurvi Chandela and Ayonika Paul in 10m Air Rifle, are among big hopes for the future including 2016 and 2020.
We have a strong wrestling team: The other discipline is wrestling in which Sushil Kumar still remains a star along with Yogeshwar Dutt who says, “”We have a very strong team for Rio. Apart from Sushil and myself, there is Bajrang and Amit Kumar. We have a few more youngsters coming up and that would form a very strong team for the next few years for both World Championships and Olympics in 2016.”
Expectations from badminton, boxing and archery: Then there would be badminton, boxing and archery where we can expect some medals. Saina Nehwal with her determination, performance and guts produced P V Sindhu as a fine successor. On a global front, Sindhu has taken upon the Chinese well though there will be more hurdles at the 2016 Olympics. If not winning medals and dominating the Olympic Games, we might as well have a positive impact with our improved performances.
The winning medal prospects in boxing could be Devendro Laishram and Vijender Singh. Since the Indian boxers manage to get into the quarter finals at the Olympics, they might as well advance into the last four where bagging a medal could seem possible. In the women’s category, Pinki Rani could be a hope after she beat M C Mary Kom to make it into the CWG team.
We wish to see our athletes bring medals for the country from Rio. To realise that, in a nutshell, we need to provide them adequate infrastructure and facilities and groom them. There is time. The prospects are bright.