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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Olympic glory

Terrific news for a nation that was starved for Olympic glory!

Sakshi Malik clinches bronze medal in women’s wrestling 58kg category, opens India’s account at Rio 2016 Olympics

Before and during the Olympics there were supporters and nay-sayers to the Indian athletes. Setting aside all the discussions, it is an achievement to win a medal at the Olympics. For a country or culture where education comes first and the thing that kids hear most is, “Finish your homework and studies and then play’, it is a win. There was a funny meme where there is a mob shouting for medals but when asked what they want their children to be, they say – doctors and engineers. Sad, but true.

The primary reason why the negative comments hurt are that these are people who don’t realize what it takes to qualify to the Olympics, let alone win at the highest level. Indian athletes – Deepa Karmakar in gymnastics and Sajjan Prakash in swimming to name a couple have taken huge risks to be at that stage. And these are not just financial and social risks – these are physical risks. Deepa performs what is known as the death vault which is called so because a small mistake can cripple a person or worse kill them. Sajjan competes in the 200 m butterfly which is the toughest stroke of them all and at that distance the swimmer finishes the last leg almost not mentally aware of him being alive or dead. Add to these the years and years of training and the missed trips, favorite food, movies, sports and everything else that other children indulge in. In the background is the dedication of the staff and their families. A swimmer, out of personal experience having seen my son train for five years now, on a daily basis spends 2.5 hours in a pool looking at the black line below and then another 2 hours working out in the gym. And this for 10 years to be able to qualify at the national level.

It will take time to move away from the cultural habits. For E.g. we see the Swachh Bharat campaign and it will take a couple of generations to build a habit to make that dream a reality. Fortunately, that might not be the case when it comes to adopting sports. Fitness and sports should gain importance, this doesn’t mean that studies take a back seat. But look around you, how many of you are doing exactly what you learnt in school???

It is high time sports get the due attention in the country. Until then, let us celebrate not just the Sakshis but more importantly the Deepas and the Sajjans for having performed at the highest level!!!

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