Lessons for us

Beginning on a rather gloomy note amidst worries about economic recession and organisational hazards, the London Olympics ended as a truly memorable spectacle largely due to a stupendous show by the athletes. There were moving stories from the track and field events and, as expected, Usain Bolt led the surge with three phenomenal sprints to assert his status as a ‘living legend.’ But there were also a number of other equally compelling tales written by David Rudisha, Jessica Ennis, Stephen Kiprotich, Michael Phelps in the pool and Andy Murray at Wimbledon. India, though couldn’t bag a gold, too experienced its most successful Olympics ever, grabbing six medals—two silver and four bronze. The Indian segment of the grandest show on the planet was a mixture of glee and disappointment.

Expectations placed on the shooting contingent were high, but between the 11 shooters all they could manage was a silver (Vijay Kumar) and a bronze (Gagan Narang). Without belittling what they have achieved, their performance underlined the need for consistency and big-stage temperament in an arena like the Olympics where the margin between glory and heartbreak is as thin as a candy floss. Boxers, another much-fancied contingent, too flattered to deceive as they have only one bronze by Mary Kom to show for their efforts. Fortune was firmly on the side of badminton queen Saina Nehwal as she got a much-deserving bronze. But the wrestlers, one of the most under-rated division of the Indian Olympic squad, managed to dig out a silver (Sushil Kumar) and a bronze (Yogeshwar Dutt) from the mat. En route his silver, Sushil also became the only Indian to win back-to-back medals in the quadrennial extravaganza. 

Indeed, there was something to cheer for the Indian sporting fraternity as our athletes produced some immensely gritty outings, but it’s also time for introspection. Considering that it is the individual performers that did India proud, the government should completely overhaul the sports bodies in the country and put the professionals in charge. Compared to our messy Commonwealth Games, London also offered a lesson in how to conduct a sporting event of the magnitude of Olympics. The British capital has to say a big thank you to Sebastian Coe, the mastermind behind getting the Olympics to London. Never for once the former Olympic gold medalist relaxed—working endless hours to make the Games a success. The way Coe & Co achieved their target should stand as a beacon to Indian administrators. 

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