Tales of blood, sweat and tears

After their biggest medal haul ever in Olympics, Indian athletes hold hope for improved show

On the Road to London, you, dear reader, came across many a face from the Indian contingent for the Games of the 30th Olympiad.

Wrestler Sushil Kumar (left) signed off India’s campaign with a silver while an unheralded Vijay Kumar provided a pleasant surprise finishing second in 25M Rapid Fire.

The Games are over now. The medals – 962 of them -- have all been distributed. To countries from Argentina to Australia and from South Africa to South Korea. A share of it came to India’s way too, won by individuals who slogged day in and day out with dreams in their hearts and hopes and prayers on their lips.

You met many of them right here. Expressing their wishes, offering a peek into their minds, daring to reveal their goals for the biggest sporting stage in the world. Of course, not all of them succeeded but they all strove, and strove hard.

So you have now, right in front of you, six medals from London 2012. Medals that tell tales of blood, sweat and tears. Medals, because of which you and I can hold our heads high in the sporting world.

How many medals have India won? Remember the time when that question hurt. Remember the time when you had to evade that question and quickly get away after mumbling an incomprehensible answer. Now, you can proudly answer it – six. Yes, six medals. No gold but two silver and four bronze.

“Six medals? That is a good number!” exclaimed a waiter at a coffee shop in Westfield Mall, adjacent to the Olympic Park on Sunday. Perhaps he knows India’s poor record at the Olympic Games. A record that shows only seven individual medals in the name of India in a century and more of Olympic history. Now we have six from one Games!
Salute the six. Vijay Kumar who shot into fame with a silver in rapid fire pistol when India really needed a thrust to their quest. Sushil Kumar who made light of an upset stomach to roll to another silver on the last day in wrestling, a day after his team-mate Yogeshwar Dutt had lifted a bronze. Saina Nehwal, the badminton queen who had a touch of luck when she needed it most for a bronze. Gagan Narang and M C Mary Kom, the warriors with a never-say-die spirit who were third best in the world in 10M air rifle and 51 kg boxing.

As you know, Olympic medals don’t come easy. You can put in hours and hours of hard work, you might be brilliant in terms of talent but a slip up here, or a slip up there is enough to reduce all your toils to nought. Pressure of the big stage is a factor too and as you have read above, lady luck needs to be on your side on the day.

That is why you find that in your team, majority are returning empty-handed. Empty-handed in terms of medals but richer in terms of experience. Sport is all about learning from defeats and moving forward. And here you have a team that promises to do so – fourth place finish for shooter Joydeep Karmakar, semifinal appearance for two-lap runner Tintu Luka, final entries for discus throwers Vikas Gowda and Krishna Poonia and even a tenth place for K T Irfan in the 20km walk are heartening signs.

Blame it on luck of the draw, officiating errors, infighting in the team or simply, superiority of their rivals, some of your favourites didn’t make it to the top. You know very well what was wrong with the tennis team. You are aware what went wrong in boxing – some fought hard, some fumbled and others bowed out making a song and dance about officiating. You did expect a lot from the archers but overlooked a factor called big-match temperament. But you can be sure that they are hurting and that is a good sign.

Of course, there were those who simply did not have the heart to stay in and fight. They will certainly get the stick but we need them back, better prepared, ready to put the past behind and keen to perform on a different pitch. Let’s not forget them even as we celebrate the Super Six, for you know very well what a wise-head once said about failure, stepping stones and success. Goodbye London! See you in Rio.

Comments (+)