Regaining respect

The re-admission of India into the Olympic fold could not have come at a better time. India having spent 14 months outside the tent with the next Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro just about a year away, there was anxiety among athletes preparing for the mega event. But now they can heave a sigh of relief and fast-track their preparations for the Rio games. It indeed would have been a matter of great shame if India were barred from competing in the quadrennial extravaganza or were even forced to compete under the IOC flag. India had to go through that embarrassment during the ongoing Winter Olympics in Sochi because of not conducting the elections to the Indian Olympic Association in time without the tainted officials in fray. 

For years, India’s performance at the world stage has largely been a laughing stock, finding solace in a PT Usha missing the bronze in the 1984 Los Angeles by a whisker or in the eight gold medals that it had won in hockey when that sport was a monopoly of the Asian nations. But since then other countries have broken away from India and it required the emergence of a set of new generation athletes to reverse the trend. Since Leander Paes won an individual medal in tennis (a bronze at Barcelona in 1992), India started dreaming about more individual medals. Superb athletes like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Abhinav Bindra and Saina Nehwal quenched that desire to a great extent at various Olympics but still there was something amiss in Indian sports as a whole. 

The sports administration in India has always been mired in corruption, nepotism and scandals. Perhaps, only in India we can find administrators who rule an association for more than three decades without contributing anything for the betterment of the event concerned. The in-fighting and corrupt practices in the IOA reached such a low that the IOC had to suspend India from the world body, asking to remove tainted office bearers and conduct fresh elections. After much bickering, IOA toed the IOC line, conducting a poll without the likes of Suresh Kalmadi and handing the reins to veteran administrator N Ramachandran. However, so far as IOA is concerned this is just a beginning as more clean-up work is needed to restore India’s image as a sporting nation.

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