A GOLD at Olympics, for India? In 2008? Am I really hearing the national anthem at Beijing? Is India currently at (joint) 10th position on the medal’s table, ahead of Russia, France and Germany ? We are living a dream. ‘Who is Abhinav Bindra?’ is the question on a billion lips now.
For a country starved of sporting success on the Olympic arena outside the hockey field, Abhinav Bindra has provided the brightest moment. This could well be the truly historic turning point for Indian sports. More than all Hockey Golds that came long back; more than the bronze that Paes won and the silver that Rathore won; more than the World cup wins in 1983 and the T20 win in 2007; more than even Anand’s World cup wins or the odd badminton victories or the frequent billiards wins. This is, without doubt, the biggest achievement for an Indian sports person.
To know that these are still early days at Beijing, is amazing. A person like Leander, doesnt need any better steroid than this – it will definitely motivate him, infinitely, to surmount his own physical limitations, age, and rivalry with his partner. Saina, in particular, and Sridhar are within striking distance in Badminton. Rathore is yet to start his quest; Anjali has not yet ended hers. Have we ever felt such a wave of optimism in any sporting event before; on any world stage?
Abhinav has really hit the bull’s eye with his nerve-racking last shot. After that no thumping of hands, no chest-bumping, no waving of flag or shirt, no shout of relief; just a reluctant smile – as if, to mark the end of a regular day at office! But a regular day, it definitely was not. If this victory cannot galvanise the country to create a winning sports culture, nothing else could. By now, looking at cricket, we know that sports can be a religion in this country, if only we create enough gods. We need a plan; a strategy. Not a fifty year plan that will help us rival China in great giant leap in future. But a phased plan that will start yielding a stream of successes with immediate effect. China has set the precedent already, of converting the occasional splashes into consistent successes. All we need to do is emulate them. Easy pickings can be identified – shooting, weightlifting (without doping), archery (come on, where are our Arjunas and Ekalavyas?), fencing, diving, equestrian (we have so many racing events and not a single representative in equestrian?), rowing (where are all our Kerala catamaran rowers?). Can’t our numerous yogis create a school for gymnastics? (China has sprung out of nowhere to dominate this sport). If we start even now, put our mind, money and effort, more medals can be won in the next Olympics in any of these events.
Sports is not just a past-time. It is a vehicle to announce to the world, of our arrival. Again, China, has shown to us what a strong message they can send to the world that they have arrived, not just in sports but in all spheres. We have, ourselves seen it, albeit in a limited manner, with the conduct of IPL. Sports can increase self-belief. Sporting victories can spur us to growth in all sectors.
Let us celebrate our new-born hero! And, let us ape him, clone him, follow him, emulate him, do whatever it takes to create more such heroes!