Date:28/08/2008 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mp/2008/08/28/stories/2008082850100300.htm
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Lessons from Beijing

Olympics The feats of Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Kumar and Sushil Kumar have opened a new chapter in Indian sports

It is important for the country not to let this welcome development slip away.

Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Making India proud Abhinav Bindra

Indians’ great showing at the Beijing Olympics has confirmed what experts have often said – that the country has a lot of talent and potential but that it is not being tapped and developed. . There are many talented young people in the rural areas, who do not have enough scope to develop their potential and fulfil their ambitions.

While gold medallist Abhinav Bindra may have come from an affluent family and had the advantage of considerable resources to further his shooting career, the other two medal winners namely wrestler Sushil Kumar from Najafgarh and boxer Vijender Kumar from Kaluwas village near Bhiwani, Haryana, are from humble backgrounds and came up the hard way.

If they won medals, they did so against the odds and showed their ability to triumph over adversity.

Their feat should be seen in the right context. Neither the boxers nor the wrestlers had their say in the events leading up to the Games.



Sushil Kumar

The boxers initially had to fight to get their trainer to be included in the contingent. The wrestlers fared even worse and had very little back up. It was as if the sports administration had taken for granted that their performances would not be worth to send an adequate support team.

A shocking revelation was made by Sushil Kumar when he disclosed that he had nobody to help when he had to go through three bouts within a span of about one hour.

Unlike all other teams, the Indians did not have anyone to massage the wrestlers between bouts.



Vijender Kumar

This is an essential aspect of wrestling since the massage helps wrestlers to get their tired muscles and limbs back into action. Sushil Kumar disclosed that the team manager Kartar Singh who is a former Asian Games medallist, acted as masseur for him. Sushil felt very uncomfortable to take this service from such a respected senior. But Kartar sportingly brushed aside Sushil’s objections and did what was required. Kartar said he was doing it for the Indian wrestlers and for the sport. The feats of Vijender and Sushil have brought media focus and public adoration to bear upon sports which are otherwise neglected and kept in the background. It is important for the country not to let this welcome development slip away. The fans will no doubt hope that necessary steps will be taken so that things will not slide back to square one when the next Olympic Games is held in London.

ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA

It is important for the country not to let this welcome development slip away

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