Much to the displeasure of teeming million Indians , the old sad story of poor performance by Indian
sportspersons both in individual and team events continue in the on-going Rio Olympics. A look at the
tally of medals highlight the bitter fact that even small countries like Georgia, Tunisia Israel, to name a
few, have been able to make their presence felt. There is no point of mentioning the sky-rocketing
performance and tally of medals in the kitty of U.S.A , China, Australia or even South Africa. Needless to
reiterate that much was expected from the Indians this time but the hopes have been nipped in the
bud. Our performance reminds us the famous English criticism on Shelley’s poems, “ It’s a story told by
an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
A look at past Indian performance familiarizes us with the fact that London Olympics , 2012, has been
the best as far as India is concerned. To quote,, “ London Olympics has been most successful
Olympics in terms of total medal tally, having won a total of 6 medals (2 silver and 4 bronze), doubling
the nation’s previous record (3 medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics). Two medals each were awarded to the athletes in shooting and wrestling. India also set a historical milestone for the female athletes who won two Olympic medals. Badminton player and world junior champion Saina Nehwal became the first
Indian athlete to win an Olympic bronze medal in the women’s singles. Boxer Mary Kom, on the other hand, lost to Great Britain’s Nicola Adams in the semi-final match, but settled for the bronze in the first ever women’s flyweight event.” Considering from this stand point, in Rio so far, we are yet to open our account!! Hope, Saina, Sindhu do something spectacular to console our wounded feeling. Deepa
Karmakar has done wonders by becoming first Indian gymnast to enter the qualifying round. By the time
this article finds the light of day, we will come to know the outcome of her effort. It is sheer bad lick
that Abhinav Bindra missed a medal in shooting by a whisker and secured fourth position.
Time was when we were formidable force in Hockey. Even after independence, India and the arch-rivals
Pakistan were competing with each other till the late 70s. Once teams like Australia, Great Britain and
Germany, Netherlands etc started playing Hockey and simultaneously Astros-turf was introduced, the
Indian domination got on the wane. The Moscow Olympics, 1980, was the last time when India became
champion beating the mother of all oppositions, Pakistan, by a solitary goal. So passionate was the
game that I distinctly remember a professional commentator and news reader of the stature of Surajit
Sen had kept counting the last few seconds before the final whistle instead of describing on-field
movement of the ball. Ever since that heroic accomplishments, it has been a long wait for the Indian
admirers expecting regaining of India’s lost glory in vain.
Nose-diving performance in Olympics, notwithstanding, independent India has witnessed scintillating
performance in other sports disciplines. In keeping with the characteristic features of our national life
during the first two decades of our post independence period, the Indian cricket too was marching
ahead building its own image in its bid to lock horns with the powerful cricketing countries like
England, Australia or West Indies.
The first shift in the approach of the Indian cricket team was evident when Mansur Ali Khan, Pataudi became the captain of Team India. Pataudi’s conspicuously aggressive approach, caring two hoots to the earlier practice of ‘caution and safety’ had heralded a new era in Indian cricket. To quote Sunil Gavaskar, “Tiger gave us that confidence to win.
You could never take your eyes off him, he had that magnetism”. Gavaskar credited Pataudi
with liberating Indian cricket, praising “his adventurous style of play. The next notable paradigm shift in Indian cricket took place when the 24 year old, Kapil Dev, the then Indian captain, went on to win the historic 1983 ICC world Cup bull dozing the might of Australia, England and then West Indies. Nick named as “ Kapil’s Devils’, the team, under rated by all cricketing ‘Pundits’ annihilated and humbled team after teams by their aggressive and attacking superb display and virtually turned cricket into a religion in India. The victory was a ‘shot in the arms’ for an euphoric and proud Indian nation besides sending the message that also called ‘third world country’ was a force to reckon with not only in cricket but also in other spheres as well . Kapil’s monumental success was repeated by the captain cool, M.S.Dhoni in 2011 when Team
India became world champion again. Cricket remains the eternal source of entertainment as well as a powerful source of our national integration. An Indian cricket victory brings the entire nation to jubilation from Kashmir to Kanya kumari .
On the auspicious occasion of our Independence Day, I pray for the consolidation of our national unity and strengthening of our age-old communal harmony, peace and tranquility..