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India And Olympics: The Way Forward To The Olympic Glory

Sports should be made as an integral part of the education system to inculcate sports culture from the school level and uniformity should be maintained in sports specific activities of various states of India to provide equal participation opportunity to its citizens.

India’s best Olympic performance in decades, with seven medals in Tokyo Olympics 2020 – one gold, two silver, four bronze it has been the most ornamental Olympic Games in India’s history and just like the Olympics, the current edition of the Paralympics in Tokyo will never be forgotten. India ended up winning 19 medals in all, including 5 gold, 8 silver and 6 bronze, to mark its best ever performances at Paralympic Games. 

Sports has always been an individual choice and test of talent. In a cricket crazy nation like India, it is imperative to frame the sports guidelines to encourage the youth to take other disciplines of sports as seriously as cricket. An early intervention from the government can do wonders, the children should be handpicked by the government at an early age and should be given training on mental conditioning, physical conditioning and nutrition with a singleminded goal of winning at the Olympics.

However, to develop a culture of sports in a country like ours, change needs to begin at home first, the most important element is a mindset change on the part of parents. Indian parents often do not see the important role that sports play in the development of our children, coupled with the fact that currently in India sports is not yet considered as a viable career path, parents generally discourage children from spending too much time on the playing field. 

Sports should be made as an integral part of the education system to inculcate sports culture from the school level and uniformity should be maintained in sports specific activities of various states of India to provide equal participation opportunity to its citizens. We foresee the future of sports industry to be a strong amalgamation between the Government sector, Public Sector, Private Sector and various communities to develop the sporting culture at the grass root level.

India being a developing country has numerous challenges. We need to make clear choices, if we want our athletes to win, we need to allocate long-term sustained investments, engage the best sports management companies, sports enthusiasts and experts from various fields to lay forward the required infrastructure and expertise in the sector. 

In the best of times, it takes the struggle of a lifetime to deliver on an international platform like Olympics. Under the disastrous first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pressure was even more.  

Neeraj Chopra didn’t compete on the international stage for 17 months, between January 2020 and June 2021. 

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu went without competition from December 2019 to April 2021. PV Sindhu featured in five tournaments from March 2020 till the start of the Olympic Games.

During the same period, Lovlina Borgohain used the money she received as part of her Arjuna Award – the second-highest state honour for Indian sportspersons – for the treatment of her mother’s kidney ailment. 

While Ravi Kumar Dahiya grappled on the mats in Tokyo, the local administration in his village in Haryana had to make special arrangements to ensure his parents could tune into the action without any electricity cuts.  

Bajrang Punia had to forfeit a match a month ago after injuring his right knee, which would remain strapped through most of his contests in Tokyo. 

The Indian men’s hockey team had spent most of the last one and a half years locked down at a national training facility in Bengaluru. In the six months leading up to the Tokyo Games, they had spent a total of four days at their respective homes.

The chase of the Olympic glory definitely comes with a price to pay and may only seldom end up with a prize. While we can’t deny that in the last couple of years, we have given better facilities to our athletes but more can be achieved. The government needs to support the athletes by taking a holistic approach in planning a proper programme, including physical and mental preparation, recovery etc. 

The government has overhauled a system which was underfunded at some point in the past. The budget allocation for the sports ministry has jumped manifold since 2016 and the Khelo India program seem to have benefitted the most. The government initiative, which until 2017 did not seem to draw much interest from the Centre, saw a whopping jump in its allocation between 2016 and 2020. The allocation for the country’s flagship sports program jumped to Rs 890.92 crore in 2020 Budget from Rs 97.52 crore in 2016.  

The FIT INDIA Movement was launched on 29th August, 2019 by Hon’ble Prime Minister with a view to make fitness an integral part of our daily lives. The mission of the Movement was to bring about behavioural changes and move towards a more physically active lifestyle. Towards achieving this mission, Fit India proposed to undertake various initiatives and conduct events not only to promote fitness and make it reach every school, college/university, panchayat/village etc but also to encourage indigenous sports. 

We need more of world class sports training facilities for preparation, the best coaches, best physiotherapists and experts from various fields within our country, land and resources should be allocated to develop sports facilities, an environment that will allow the grassroot programmes that are sprouting across India to flourish. Some of these programmes will ultimately evolve into organised leagues.

To encourage the sports culture, the government constantly upgrades the sporting framework of India. The role of public private partnerships between the government and the government organizations which constitutes the public sectors of the sports industry, sports management companies, sports enthusiasts and experts cannot be ignored in building the future of sports, while promoting physical literacy and awareness about playing sport with the right technical knowledge without thinking of the rewards in terms of medals and success. The need of the hour is to make sport a very important factor in our lives while developing infrastructure, nurturing talents and designing specialized programmes for overall development of sports, only then a magical tally of medals can be achieved.  

Source: Business World

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