We all know India’s obsession with gold and silver jewelry, coins, and biscuits, but there’s this crazy obsession that has taken over us the past 11 days – to see our athletes bring home some shiny gold, silver, and if not those then at least some bronze medals.
I am an ardent Olympic follower, and have been following olympics very closely the past 3 seasons. I spend sleepless nights waiting to see every single Olympic match, see Usain bolt run at the speed of light, watch Simone Biles floor me with her stupendous flooring exercises, and experience amazing sports like archery, fencing, beach volleyball, and rowing among others. But as an Indian, what I truly enjoy is to see a large contingent of athletes participate in sports that you and I don’t see being played popularly within our country.
I was floored after finding out that 2 of our women athletes qualified for the Women Marathon! Isn’t that a crazy achievement in itself? Medal or not, I’m so proud that when I saw that one of them finished 89th and the other 120th, I was sure that these ladies are amazing. Their timings were great! Who cares if they didn’t make it to the top 3!
All said and done, I understand the obsession with wanting to win. We all want to see athletes from our country win, stand on a podium, and flash that medal. But every time I get disheartened after one of them is knocked out, I think to myself – do we have the rights to expect a medal from them?
As individuals or as fans, we have the right to expect great things from our athletes, but as a country we don’t.
How can we expect to teach a child to be an engineer all her life and then expect her to perform a heart surgery? How do you expect a farmer’s son, who doesn’t even have the resources to practice rowing, to beat men from countries like USA, France, and New Zealand? We cannot- yet these athletes defy everything and get so close to winning that they win our hearts!
“One Billion and No Medal”
“She Won our Heart, but didn’t Win us a Medal”
“Dipa Wins Hearts, but India Still Medal-less”
“No Medal for India yet, USA on Top”
These headline bother me. I know that these journalists and writers probably have the best of intentions and immense respect for these athletes, but these titles take away so much from our athletes and their contributions to the sports fraternity in India.
It’s going to take us a long time before we can produce one medal after another in the Olympics and here’s why we should be okay with that and watch our athletes perform in admiration. Let’s look at these games as an opportunity to promote sports in our country.
We need a Dipa to make Gymnastics hip and cool in our schools. We need a Saina or a Sindhu to make badminton interesting. We need a Srikanth Kidambi to get kids interested in badminton over cricket. We need a Dattu to make rowing sexy. We need a Lalita to tell us what Steepathlon is and why so many of us can be good at it. We need a Dutee Chand to remind us that P.T.Usha wasn’t the only one. We need a Bopanna to keep telling us that Tennis can be amazing if we give it a real chance. We need a Atanu Das to remind us that archery is a real sport. We need a Gagan Narang to tell us that shooting is not just done for wars. We need a Krishnan or a Manoj Kumar to teach us that we can box our way through controversies and become great boxers, and lastly we need all our 119 athletes to tell us that we need to love them always and not just during the Olympics. We need to support them to reach the next Olympics and if not win, continue to fight.
What I’m trying to tell with this rant is that – Let’s not be obsessed with medals, let’s be obsessed with these athletes.