A note on the Rio Olympics and India

The no-good idiotic loudmouths of the Shobha De variety notwithstanding, and equally those ignorantly bemoaning the lack of medals… this has actually been one of the more improved outings for India at the Olympics and a harbinger of better times to come. The Indian delegation at Rio is its largest ever at Olympics, comprising of 117 athletes spread across various individual and team disciplines. This itself is a sign of a growing culture of sports, of greater interest and hope for improved infrastructure. And though we won 6 medals at the 2012 Olympics, our results this time are markedly better even if we may not have as many medals to show. This time around we have made a mark in events where one doesn’t even think of India participating in, let alone coming close to a medal by such close margins. The media has displayed its ignorance in these matters, and its desire to feed into the simplistic narrative of competitive sports and events such as the multilevelled Olympics as merely about the gold-silver-&-bronze, by not reporting or highlighting the many other achievements of the Indian contingent at Rio. This when we lap up 1-run victories over minnows like Bangladesh in cricket T20 internationals!
  • The women’s team in Archery comprising of Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi and Laxmirani Majhi reached till the quarterfinals, and lost to 2nd ranked Russia.
  • Srikanth Kidambi in the men’s singles Badminton also went till the quarterfinals where he lost to 3rd seeded Lin Dan of China.
  • The 18 year old Aditi Ashok from Bengaluru is currently in the 8th position out of 60 players after 2 rounds in the women’s Golf event, with 2 more rounds left to go. She currently has a score of 6 under par, with the board leader just 4 shots away at 10 under par.
  • Sakshi Malik won India its first medal, a Bronze in the 58kgs category of the women’s freestyle Wrestling; but spare a thought also for Vinesh Phogat (she of the famous Phogat sisters that Bollywood will immortalize later this year in the Aamir Khan starring Dangal), who if it weren’t for her freak injury would most assurredly have gone further than her truncated run at the quarterfinals of the 48kgs category in women’s freestyle Wrestling. Her opponent at the quarters, Sun Yanan of China, eventually won the Bronze medal. The men’s freestyle Wrestling is yet to happen, and India should look forward to a good result there as well.
  • The 4th seeded duo of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna were favourites to net India one of its first medals, since in the Tennis mixed doubles event 2 of the top 4 seeds went out in the first round and the third withdrew. Mirza and Bopanna faced stiff opposition however from the American duo of Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram (of Indian origin) to lose in the semifinals. Their hopes for a Bronze medal were dashed as well when they lost to the Czech pair of Hradecka and Stepanek. But a 4th place is still a 4th place and not one to be rubbished off.
  • In men’s Shooting, Abhinav Bindra missed the Bronze medal by 20 points to settle for the 4th rank in the 10 metres air rifle category, while Jitu Rai qualified for the finals of the 10 metres air pistol category in 6th position out of 46 shooters to finish at rank 8 in the finals.
  • While there are still quite a few categories in the men and women’s track and road events of Athletics where Indian athletes will be performing, it must be noted that Lalita Babar qualified 4th for the finals of the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase out of 53 competitors, and ranked 10th at the end of it.
  • All eyes will be on 9th seeded PV Sindhu as she takes on 1st seed Carolina Marin of Spain for the Gold medal in the women’s singles Badminton. On her road to an assured Silver medal, every opponent that Sindhu has beaten was seeded higher than her, including 2nd seed Wang Yihan of China whom she trumped in the quarterfinals.
  • Vikas Yadav lost at the quarterfinals of the men’s middleweight Boxing to eventual finalist Bektemir Melikuziev of Uzbekistan. Had there been the system of repechage at Boxing like Wrestling, Yadav could very well have been in the running for a Bronze medal like Sakshi Malik.
  • The men’s team in the Field Hockey tournament qualified from their group for the quarterfinals where they lost to runners-up at the finals, Belgium. Earlier in the group stages, India defeated eventual winners and Gold medallists Argentina. On an aside, the Indian Hockey team needs to get back to its glory days. We still hold the record for the most Olympic medals in Hockey, winning 11 medals in 12 Olympics until 1980.
  • Dipa Karmakar of Tripura remains the story of this Olympics. She created history by becoming the first Indian, male or female, to qualify for the Gymnastics event. Not one to be content with just that, she almost won a Bronze medal, coming in 4th at the women’s artistic vault event a hairline 0.150 points behind the 3rd place holder; and infact scoring higher in the 2nd and final of the 2 vault jumps than the Bronze and Silver winners even with a death manouevre that only 5 gymnasts internationally attempt!
  • The other story of this Olympics, however a cruelly ironic one, is that of Dattu Bhokanal. Coming from a stone-crushing labourer family in drought-stricken Maharashtra, Bhokanal placed 3rd among 32 qualifiers in the heats of the men’s single sculls Rowing, came fourth in the quarterfinals and got relegated to the non-medal semifinals where he came in 2nd to finally placing 1st in the non-medal finals!
Given the hoops of apathy, dogma, neglect and bureaucracy that our athletes jump through to make it to the world stage, they deserve gold medals for that alone. Their qualifying through hundreds of international players from the best of countries with the most advanced of sporting infrastructure and heavily invested sporting cultures needs to be acknowledged and respected for what it is, than merely being armchair critics and scoffing at the lack of medals. The next time we celebrate an Indian cricket team that wins a ‘World Cup’, it would be wise to remember that ‘that’ world comprises of but 10 nations. There’s a reason why even the Olympics doesn’t recognize cricket as a global sport. Not that we must take away anything from our cricketing heroes, but a little perspective when looking at our other sportspersons in other sports would do us all good. So celebrate Sakshi and Sindhu… but also these others who have all in their own right done India very proud. Else we would be only slightly different than the Shobha De types… she mocked that we couldn’t win medals, we will only be slightly better by championing only those that do.
Abhishek ‘Abzee’ Bandekar

88 Responses to “A note on the Rio Olympics and India”

  1. Very well written piece. Engrossing read,
    And the most distateful dig at Saina by a troll. And her dignified reply.

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  2. Dhyan Chand, P.T. Usha, Shiney Abraham fired the Olympic spirit in Indians which is shining well now. Hope these inspiring stories will make the youth take up to sports in a big way. Especially gymnastics and swimming which need more participation like other sports. Why not train fisherfolk in water sports? Just like in Lagaan, where they found skills in villagers in an unique way.

    Meanwhile congratulations to Sindhu. And every participant needs love and respect irrespective of whether they won or lost.

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    • You are absolutely right… there are many potential sporting stars hiding in the general populace… but since it is not our priority and there aren’t systems in place, these are allowed to slip through and not harvested. For example, on an average the only other sport after cricket that is as commonly played across suburban areas and on weekend picnics in India is volleyball… and yet there isn’t anything in place to find and nurture talented volleyball players and produce a national team.

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  3. Good read here Abzee but I must nonetheless dissent. I left this comment earlier on Bachchan’s blog:

    [India and China have the same population. The medals tally is a different story altogether. Simply no excuse for this. There are institutional reasons, some cultural ones perhaps, no one’s blaming the athletes by any means who often overcome incredible odds just to compete. But at the end of the day this is a pretty shameful reality. And with all due respect countries that truly win in any sport consistently don’t have this attitude where winning is great but ‘losing is pretty good too’ because ‘hey let’s encourage everyone’. You can only be great as a country or as an individual in any sport when winning is the ‘only’ thing. Ask Sachin. If he just misfielded in a nothing game against Bangladesh he’d look very upset with himself. These examples could be multiplied. This doesn’t mean that one should make fun of athletes or the overall effort and so on but one must also face reality. Again whether an individual sport of a team one you cannot be great or even very good if winning isn’t everything to you. Losing is part of the deal but it’s quite another to never really be ‘in competition’ to begin with. India doesn’t have to be China but it would help not to have the worst Olympics record relative to population.]

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    • and whatever medals India has now won or might win in these games do you really think any serious Olympics nation at any level would be happy with this record? And again one can’t say ‘oh we’re just poor Indians’ when otherwise we pretend to be a global superpower. Not referring to you Abzee, just commenting on the overall attitude in these matters. It’s easy to make it about Shobha De or whoever. I’m not agreeing with her or anyone else. But that’s not really the issue. By the way I can even accept the idea that a nation ought not to be judged by its sports achievements. But if you get into the game (!) you are expected to perform a certain way. Certainly a nation of more than a billion is.

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      • I must also say that it is not merely about Shobha De… but she is symptomatic of a disturbingly universal mindset which is to never be invested in other sports in general or the Asian Games or Commonwealth and only crawl out come Olympics and go after the players for not winning medals instead of questioning the establishment and our own apathy. A Gopichand has to mortgage his own house to start a Badminton academy, while the outcome of a Chennai Super Kings being stripped off its status is the emergence of a Tamil Nadu Premier League!

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        • you’re quite right but at the same time those who criticize Shobha De are often equally colonized in every other respect. They decide to wear their nationalist badges only in very selective cases.

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    • China incidentally have been the biggest loser in this Olympics. Expected 36, ended up with 20 golds..
      I think Indians disappointed in mens shooting, weight lifting and tennis doubles. We should have done better. Otherwise most of them have punched above their weight.

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      • yes but historically they’ve done quite well. It’s one thing to have a disappointing Olympics every once in a while when one is always a major nation in this sense. they still have 58 medals, they’re still third on the list despite have a disappointing run on the gold.

        consider where India is on the list and consider the number (and the nature) of countries above it:

        TABLE

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        • Of course i wasn’t comparing with India. We definitely need to do a lot more and whoever is winning is despite the system rather than because of it. There needs to be more grassroot investment and more importantly clear focus on some sports rather than trying in all disciplines. I think we are getting better in badminton, wrestling, shooting and those are some areas where we need to invest more.

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          • I’d have thought the Commonwealth games in Delhi would have had a major impact in interest.

            I wonder what the viewing figures are like in India in general for Olympics. Not just this one but previous ones too.

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          • “whoever is winning is despite the system rather than because of it”

            Yes precisely. .

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      • To put it in cricket terms India isn’t even at Holland (in cricket!) level. It’s way lower than that. But our argument seems to be, we’ve done pretty well given that we’re not even Holland! But why we are at that level to begin with is the more important question. By the way the same thing holds for football (soccer). India had a storied tradition in Bengal dating back to british days. Just the population of W Bengal is greater than that of most countries who play in the WC. Why didn’t that tradition ever lead to something more significant?

        And again I’m not knocking the individual athletes. But you can’t pat yourself on the back after setting the bar so incredibly low.

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      • 20 gold medals! Wow! It is like blockbuster deal.

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    • You display the same mentality as the others…talking about Sachin when Dhyanchand, for all legitimate reasons, is the greatest sports person ever to have played for India. He is widely considered the greatest hockey player of ALL TIME!

      What Abzee has written is absolutely right. I read a discussion on BBC where the English supporters were hailing their women’s hockey team and at the same time, decrying their football team as a bunch of prima donnas. The same situation applies to Indian sport and cricket in general.

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      • Saket, I think you should revisit my Sachin comment. I don’t know why he usually becomes a red flag for you. I am not arguing about greatness here, I made that comment in a very specific context on Bachchan’s blog. My point was (it’s unfortunate I have to spell it out) that this whole attitude many celebrities like to (the Bachchans over all others) about always being positive and what not.. exactly the opposite is true. The Australians are not positive about cricket losses, the great soccer national teams are not positive about losing, even the current Indian team embodies that ethic and certainly the fans value this over anything else. The same applies to the Olympics and anything else. And the Sachin point was precisely about this. He wasn’t just giving a 100% when he was getting all his knocks. He was giving a 100% even when he was fielding against Bangladesh and as such he would look very disappointed if a misfield resulted in a run or two extra for the other side. Because Bachchan is also socially friendly with Sachin and runs into him all the time I thought this example was even more pertinent. All of this should have been obvious. Again one is free not to like Sachin but you’re reading into the response stuff that simply isn’t there. Of course even if one called Sachin India’s greatest sports figure that’s hardly something to get so upset about even if one disagrees but that’s another debate. Incidentally only a fool would deny Dhyanchand’s pre-eminence and I’m certainly not that fool.

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        • Hard as it is for you to believe, I don’t hate Sachin. It’s a tangential debate anyways, which can take place some other time.

          The same applies to the Olympics and anything else.

          When Dhyan Chand is pipped by Tendulkar to become the first Bharat Ratna awardee from sports, one can sense what’s the ‘respect’ that’s accorded to other sports in India. How many people talk about Vishy Anand or Prakash Padukone or Saina Nehwal’s #1 ranking in Badminton compared to the mediocre results that the Indian cricket team produced in the 90s?

          First off, there’s no real interest in sports other than cricket in India. Second, the cricketing bodies are governed by the most vile and corrupt politicians (Lalu was once the president of Bihar’s cricket association) and third, there’s no financial incentive for athletes to take up sports other than cricket. So is it a real surprise that the results are so bad? Whatever plusses we are seeing are in spite of the system, not because of it.

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          • Meant to say sports bodies and not cricketing bodies

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          • I don’t disagree upto a point. You can’t really compare team sports to individual ones. A very great tennis player wins all sorts of Grand Slams. A very great player on a NZ team of the 70s or 80s still gets his team nowhere. I do agree that some sports are underrepresented but that’s not surprising. It happens everywhere. It’s not fair but these things are also about fashions and trends. Hockey was one of the big games once but has faded since, almost into oblivion. This is not limited to India though, other countries have similar issues. In any case it might be a bit unrealistic to expect Prakash Phadukone to get the same sort of mileage as a great cricket player or something. This doesn’t happen even in the West. Unless you’re one of the greatest Olympic athletes and a particularly iconic one no one really knows your name besides people who follow these things. Meanwhile every half-decent basketball or football player is a household name. Again not saying it’s fair.

            On Sachin I’d say this. Dhyanchand is probably hockey’s Bradman. But if one married individual accomplishment to cultural meaning and of course the singular set of expectations that were always attendant on him Sachin is rather unique. Observers outside India have said that no one ever played with more pressure than him. Don’t want to get into a different debate. I in any case don’t have an issue if you want to consider Dhyanchand greater. But the ‘iconic’ is always part of the accomplishment. Within reason of course. Maradona’s iconic appeal is inseparable from his accomplishments. Now of course you already have to be one of the greatest for this to be important. Clearly being iconic in the Beckham way doesn’t cut it! But that ‘meaning’ isn’t something somehow appended to accomplishment. It is already part of the latter. if Sachin weren’t that sort of icon very early on he wouldn’t carry the expectations of a billion people (to quote a famous line), he wouldn’t play with that sort of singular pressure, on and on. So the cultural meaning isn’t just a bonus. It works itself into the star’s achievements in positive and negative ways. Anyway I still don’t have a problem with nominating Dhyanchand as the greatest. Actually I don’t even have an issue if someone prefers Sunny to Sachin. Some debates are reasonable, some aren’t.

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        • Without getting into any Sachin-Dhyanchand debate (both greats in my book, one privileged to have his legendary status cemented on the cusp of the millenials… the other unfortunately fading from the gen y memory), I must point out that this comparison of cricket and/or football versus the Olympics is not fair. Firstly, most of the events at the Olympics are point based and not simple win or lose. Those winning gold or silver or bronze are not so much winners as they are the best in a pool. The others below them don’t become losers. Not winning a medal means you are not the best athlete but it doesn’t make you a bad athlete… a poor athlete wouldn’t qualify for the Olympics period.

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      • on the second point it’s not about who decries what more. That’s a comparatively minor problem. The Brazilian fans think they should win all world cups! The point is that at the end of the day there’s a medals table and if you’re rubbing shoulders with Tunisia and you’re # 70 you should wonder what’s going on. And it’s especially surprising given your total interest in stats elsewhere that you’re even arguing about this. And saying ‘hey we’re not winning because we’re also pretty corrupt’ sounds a bit like that Sholay gag Jai delivers before the mausi!

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        • I’ve answered this below. Look at the reply to MSD’s post. It’s not just a fact that apart from cricket other sports in India get a stepmotherly treatment.

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        • I still stand by that India have been incredibly embarrassing in Olympics. The gene theory is fair but to be frank the Chinese are not incredibly huge creatures by nature either. I prefer the theory that India simply doesn’t care enough compared to others & they are poor in finding right sports to invest in.

          China pretty much created 3,000 concentration camps for Beijing such was there desire.

          They are ploughing millions now into football, to create a breakout from Europe. They clearly have goals & are ready to invest.

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          • They are ploughing millions now into football, to create a breakout from Europe. They clearly have goals & are ready to invest.

            Not too different from the cold-war era where ‘farming’ athletes to win medals was high on the Communist agenda. The cold war might be over but the mentality still remains…

            For example, during the cold war era, or even now, children as young as 5 or 6 years are slotted into different training categories based on their performances in China. All of this is taken care of by the Government of course.

            For some countries, Olympics or rather showboating in Olympics, is a national priority!

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          • I’m certainly not a supporter of Chinese tactics. I’m not suggesting India follow that model. But there can be ‘some’ model that results in something better. You can’t say that everything from the US to China is somehow not applicable. And yes you’re right India has all these institutional issues. But that hardly excuses anything. I’d also make perhaps this deeper point. Yes the Olympics are about showmanship and what not, all national sports are. But isn’t the nation-state already about such showmanship? Is India any different? If we do this anyway (moreso than ever before in the age of Modi), in every other field (or at least try to) at least we would have a better excuse to do it in sports.

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          • by the way I wouldn’t even laugh at the Communists so much in this sense . Of course I don’t support their excesses but consider how the ‘farm system is a reality now everywhere from baseball in America to cricket in Australia. And these then become the most effective talent pools. An even better example is tennis where from the age of 5 or 6 you have kids basically spending all of their waking hours (more or less) playing tennis in a Florida camp. Parents who become ‘Communists’ for/to their children. So much of contemporary sports relies on extreme levels of fitness and this has seeped into most sports. This is precisely the Communist paradigm. Remember Rocky 4? As it turns out the Rocky model has faded and Ivan Drago’s model has become the dominant one! Except when it’s Sultan! The Chinese do it at a mass level in this sense but the ethic of training is the same even in the most ‘liberal’ Western countries.

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          • lol@ Sultan part!
            If you watch the wrestling matches, you will figure how difficult it to give “dhobi pachad” at competitive level.

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          • Ha! can’t say I’m an expert on this stuff!

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          • @As it turns out the Rocky model has faded and Ivan Drago’s model has become the dominant one! Except when it’s Sultan! ”

            Yes and thank you for the small mercies and specifying exception to that rule !

            This is an interesting blog piece in the Time Magazine though on the genes issue and not race per se –

            Is It Genes, or the Gym, That Makes Great Athletes? Q&A With Author of “The Sports Gene”
            A sports science writer unlocks the mysteries behind championship performances – By Alice Park @aliceparkny Aug. 14, 2013

            “…..So is there a sports gene?

            There is absolutely no such thing as single sports gene. I think it’s a metaphorical concept.

            But there are cases where genes, depending on sport, are not sufficient for elite performance, but necessary. One obvious example is height for the NBA. And less obvious is the gene that tells you that you absolutely are not going be in the 100m final in the [Olympic Games in] Rio in 2016. The ACTN 3 gene, the so-called sprint gene, explains a small amount variation at very high levels of performance. So if you don’t have the correct copies [of this gene] for sprinting, you’re not going to be in the 100m final.

            What genetic science is showing us is that the more important part of talent — and certainly of endurance – is the ability to respond to training, the biological setup that makes you train better than your peers. If you’re not set up that way, you can put up a heck of a lot of work, but it might be impossible to reach elite levels…..”

            &

            “….So if some athletes start out with genetic advantages, and are more trainable than others, where is the line between natural ability and ability that has been enhanced?

            That’s such a tricky question. We’ve already shown how little sports governing bodies have thought about it, with the case of Caster Semenya, [the female South African runner whose gender was questioned when she tested with high testosterone levels], and cases in the past of female athletes with a natural condition in which they have elevation of testosterone or other traits that people consider more typical of males. It’s not their fault that biology doesn’t break down as cleanly as [sports governing bodies] would like….”

            http://keepingscore.blogs.time.com/2013/08/14/is-it-genes-or-the-gym-that-makes-great-athletes-qa-with-author-of-the-sports-gene/

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          • Even the genetics issue should be handled with great caution in these (and other) debates. For all sorts of reasons though I don’t want to put up another long response on this.

            I will say this. If everyone is operating at a certain fitness the one who isn’t will be disadvantaged no matter how talented he or she is. Once upon a time this wasn’t the case. Tennis players in the 80s weren’t as fit as tennis players today. Not even close. So what? This age doesn’t produce more ‘greatness’, it doesn’t even produce more ‘very good’ players. It does however producer fitter players who can then shape the game in certain ways, both individual and team sports. This isn’t a ‘better’ state of affairs, just a different one (actually I’d argue it’s been to the detriment of most sports inasmuch as it eliminates the finer points of every game but that’s another debate.. some important exceptions here though…). It’s like gym bodies in Bollywood. It’s only when you have value placed on this kind of fitness that suddenly everyone from an older age looks flabby. But these are trends. Things change. Every age values different things. The idea that more fitness leads to higher quality sports is something I’d flatly reject. But it does bring about a certain kind of difference in the game. But that difference isn’t a good in itself, often it can be a very problematic one. of course there are always differences in any game depending on what period one is looking at. But the contemporary ethic in these creates a particular situation. We are all ‘Communists’ (to use the Saket analogy). We all value ultimate sports ‘machines’ who keep producing (runs/scores whatever) in a certain mechanical way. Our statistical tables also increasingly reflect this ethic (the Americanization of most sports is complete in this sense.. soccer incidentally has been something of an exception to all of this in certain ways.. not necessarily the only one). What’s the difference? If you value a what used to be called a ‘chanceless’ century in a test match more than any result and if on the other hand you varying a blistering 30 scored at a crucial point irrespective of the caliber of the stroke play (or not!) it’s not just that the game has ‘evolved’ but that the world in each case has very different ‘values’ with which it approaches the game. It seems obvious to people living in the present that their own ‘values’ are better but that’s of course true for every age.

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        • And saying ‘hey we’re not winning because we’re also pretty corrupt’ sounds a bit like that Sholay gag Jai delivers before the mausi!

          Perhaps you need to revisit Abzee’s post above to realize just how many near misses India’s had this time around. India won 6 medals in the last Olympics, they will only win 2 this time around, but the overall performance has, in fact, improved. There are more top ten finishes this time around than ever before.

          And this is the case in spite of a system that’s broken and corrupt to the core.

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          • I’m not disagreeing with any of this. But whatever the ‘factors’ this still doesn’t an accomplishment make in any serious sense. Otherwise there are lots of countries on that list with even greater challenges. Unless one wants to say that every one of those 60-70 countries on that list are better off than India economically, politically, institutionally, or all three.

            Is it really too much to ask India to win a total of 20 medals (any kind)? C’mon!

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          • With a little bit of luck India could have been within the top 30 or 40. Not a great result overall, but which part of recent Indian history suggests that winning 20 medals would be a cinch?

            Since 1980, Indians have struggled to win Gold, with the exception of Abhinav Bindra (who came from an affluent background and spent his own money to train), so how can one be so suddenly upbeat about India’s prospects?

            Now it is true that some small countries do win a couple of Gold medals that makes one sit up and take notice, and perhaps they are not so significant on the world map as India is, but perhaps there are systems in place that produce athletes in particular events for those countries. Africans (Kenyans in particular) are exceptional middle distance runners and they’ve long had a tradition of winning in those events. It’s not very unlike the lone case of Gopichand in India who’s doing a fantastic job for Badminton in India. That is precisely what I was trying to point out in my earlier responses as well.

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          • I don’t disagree with anything here. I am not upbeat about India’s prospects. All I’m saying is that India ‘ought’ to be in a better position. And because the bar is so low doesn’t one risen a bit above it is anything to celebrate (the individual performances of course should be feted). But also using the same logic one shouldn’t expect anything in any walk of life. Because the same factors plan those other areas as well.

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          • But also using the same logic one shouldn’t expect anything in any walk of life. Because the same factors plan those other areas as well.

            No, they don’t. Private enterprise isn’t as crippled as state-owned machinery and the results are infinitely better. The Government ‘system’ is broken because it was designed to be top-down, bureaucratic and conducive to massive levels of corruption. You should watch Bhaag Milkha Bhaag where the eponymous Sikh joined sports just to get a decent breakfast each day, which was 2 eggs and a glass of milk!

            India owes Milkha Singh’s world record, of those days, to 2 eggs and a single glass of milk…

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          • But how does China then achieve so much with the govt practically involved in every walk of life? And we’ve been talking about sports as well.

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          • China (as well as Russia or North Korea) have a different mentality towards the Olympics. Yes, these countries are also corrupt but for them it’s exceedingly important to showcase their ‘strength’ or ‘might’ at an international forum. They are not just serious about Olympics, they would make sure heads would roll (literally!) if results are not according to their expectations. All this comes at a cost, of course and if someone asks me if I’d rather be in China or India, I would definitely choose the freedom that’s present in India over China’s protective bubble.

            The Government in China can be ruthlessly aggressive in certain ways — be it in Sports or development of infrastructure etc (Government deadlines in building roads and highways are strictly followed vis-a-vis India) but these are special cases that exist because of restrictions in other walks of life.

            Why is India relatively better off in Cricket? There can be many answers to this question, but most importantly, since the IPL, there has been a major influx of private money that has brought along with it accountability, a winner’s mentality, foreign coaches and a pressure cooker environment that’s so ruthless that even top cricketers from the world can’t (sometimes) make the grade.

            This may not be the only reason for India’s relative rise in cricket rankings, but it does give us an idea of what’s lacking in other sports.

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          • fair points. In fact one could argue that sports became even more important during the Cold War inasmuch as these countries could not ‘beat’ the US and the West in other economic/cultural ways. My larger point though was that a certain kind of authoritarian (if not totalitarian) state can work rather well even with capitalist economics. Contemporary China is the big example here. A crony capitalism managed by the State. There are those who argue that this model is increasingly becoming more attractive around the world. Singapore under Lee Yuan Kew began it, Deng followed but now it’s all over and increasingly people respond positively to the authoritarian figure who also promises capitalism (from Modi to Erdogan the examples are many). In other words the point is that at this moment ‘politics’ if you will is too unstable for capitalism to function as it did before and it has to be managed in more authoritarian ways for it to be functional in the same sense. Otherwise politics completely disrupts it. Trump is the classic symptom of this in the US. If we really had him in power and really followed his model he’d wreck the US economy completely not to mention the effect this would have elsewhere. But the fact that Trump is possible shows that capitalism as it has been constituted for so long no longer responds to the present moment. The reason authoritarian systems can nonetheless make it work is that they can create or nurture the conditions based on which ‘capitalism’ has always depended which is to say someone somewhere must work in Manchester-like factory conditions. Whether Manchester is now Bangladesh or China or wherever makes no difference to capital. But of course this has political consequences or more precisely politics and capitalist economics diverge at some point. As long as the world is ordered a certain way the tension can be maintained but beyond a point it becomes untenable (this is the world we’re living in). The authoritarian figure keeps things at home in a way. Or upto a point. China has 100,000 protests a year, now even the Party is worried with growth rates having declined greatly. people will put up with authoritarianism as long as they get their economic rewards. In any case and getting back to the earlier point you see how from the Nazis to contemporary China a State very invested in economic progress can actually be very efficient. Now over time rot nonetheless sets in but sometimes these authoritarian states get around the problem by generating constant crises or ever-new goals and so on. The Nationalist charge in these arrangements is so strong that it always enables a certain kind of productivity. Of course if the system is too repressive it will throttle all these goals which is basically what happened in the Soviet Union or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. But this wasn’t the Nazi model (or not for all of its citizens) nor is it the contemporary Chinese one. These latter models are repressive of course but they essentially respect the capitalist compact in economic terms (hitler of course went crazy with war, otherwise Germany was being celebrated as an economic marvel at the time).

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          • sorry I’ve digressed too much here!

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          • I disagree with a lot of what you say here, although I do agree with your comments on China. Capitalism is, in essence, a substitute for self-interest. One can take out all qualities from a sane, living-breathing human but self-interest always remains (unless one’s face to face with Gautam Buddha)

            The idea of free trade is to not stifle this basic human trait but to make it work for the larger good. The role of the Government in this process should be as minimal as possible. If two people are willing to exchange goods at an appropriate cost (similar to the barter system) they should be allowed to do so without any intervening restrictions (taxes, licenses, bureaucracy — all agents fueling corruption). Now imagine this principle at play on a worldwide scale. That’s what capitalism ought to enable — more freedom!

            Now it’s true that with the present system in place, some parts of the world will be exploited more than the others — a system based on profit can be unforgiving in this sense — but the alternatives to this system are far worse. The exact opposite system puts the entire power in the hands of the state and keeps everyone poor and much worse off. North Korea is a prime example of the latter case. At least within a democracy people have a chance, however small it might be, to rise above their collective plight. Communism offers none.

            And finally, Modi is hardly a capitalist in the traditional sense of the word. The motto of the present government is maximum government, minimum governance, what with the ballooning size of the cabinet and the extension of the license Raj policies of yore. This isn’t what capitalism is all about. In many ways, as I’ve pointed out in the past, Modi’s economic policies are no different from the UPA’s. Unless and until these bottlenecks (mentioned above) in the system are removed, we can expect results to be no different than the UPA regime.

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          • the problem is that capitalist model never really works out that way in practice. The only debate is then whether this happens because of ‘contingencies’ or for perfectly ‘natural’ reasons. I’d argue it’s the latter. Take a simple example. Why is that there has never been a capitalist economy that did not have its Manchester or its Bangladesh (depending on what historical point you’re examining)? Put differently for there to be post-WWII prosperity of the West you either need Manchester or Bangladesh. For prosperity in one place you need a certain kind of immiseration elsewhere. Now the question is: why do things move from Manchester to Bangladesh? Because the democratic political process makes certain political demands impossible to ignore over time. People refuse to work in Manchester mills or factories in horrible 19th century conditions. Enter the welfare state. This becomes part of the democratic compact. For a while this leads to greater prosperity all round. the worker in an auto plant gets paid better but also has health benefits and so on. At some point this arrangement starts showing cracks. The welfare state gets overextended but you can’t really fix it as no one’s going to vote for a party that promises this. Now I’m just looking at one piece of it, I’m not saying this is the only reason but I’m focusing on it for the obvious purposes of this discussion. In any case you now need for those very same profitability models (that were once sustained by undemocratic or certainly less democratic arrangements in the West) Manchesters elsewhere in the world. And this comes about in countries where there’s extreme poverty and/or those that lack basic democratic guarantees in the same sense. You can’t have child labor in the US but you can have it in India (incidentally a recent law makes this even easier in some respects!). You can have Nike or whoever use makeshift factories in illegal constructions in Bangladesh and later pretend they knew nothing about it when tragedy strikes. I actually agree! This isn’t about some ‘greedy capitalists’. This is the logic that is completely intrinsic to the system. The theory is that every country can be like Switzerland but to keep believing this when nothing in the history of capitalism points towards this is to believe in a different kind of fundamentalism. It’s not just these ‘big’ examples. I’ve used others before but consider how Amazon runs its warehouses in the US or Apple’s Foxcon arrangements in China. everywhere the greatest seductions of technological globalized capitalism depend on the worst kind of ‘Marxist’ exploitation. And we console ourselves that people do these things willingly because they are poorer otherwise. Of course they do. But poverty shouldn’t be an abstraction. All kinds of poverty isn’t the same. We fashion a world in which people are forced to do certain things to survive. So the theory sounds great in principle except that it ALWAYS comes with a certain brand of economic imperialism and even more direct political intervention. From major powers controlling the World Bank and exerting all kinds of pressure on debtor nations to even more powerful corporate entities, from the terrible history of colonialism which is linked through and through with the history of capitalism (as certainly as in another sense slavery is linked to the US economy) to the present day history of labor conditions in so many parts of the world that would make 19th century Manchester look like a birthday party, you have countless examples at every turn establishing this structural problem of capital but never really the opposite. So of course there’s the US or Western Europe but do these economies exist without those third world models? Of course not. I’ll end with my favorite example. Brutal civil wars are kept in place (if not engendered) to gain access to coltan. We all use this in our electronic devices and as we admire the globalization that gives us this benefit we forget how entire villages are pillaged and brutalized and people subjected to unimaginable horrors to keep that supply of coltan cheaply available. We wouldn’t really want to pay three times the amount for our laptops or cellphones! This is the story of capitalism everywhere.

            On Modi by the way I do agree and on the UPA analogy as well. But I’d argue here that he proves my point. Because capitalism depends on politics not getting in the way. It has in much of the ‘developed’ world. Elsewhere it does but often not in any consistent sense. The strongman who weakens democratic guarantees is perfectly ok as long as he promises less resistance for the same enterprise. The moment this promise is made the West for instance is willing to live with any kind of political figure.

            Lastly and even if Adam Smith always thought a certain morality was inextricable from his vision of capitalism (to be fair to him he didn’t quite have today’s model in mind) the problem is that precisely capital is amoral. On the one hand this is a great liberating force. It breaks through or destroys older religious/caste/ethnic etc divisions and so on. On the other hand it introduces its own model of dispossession and immiseration and so forth. Sometimes it even uses the former to advance its ends. A lot of fratricidal wars in today’s world are not ‘ancient’ contrary to what the media likes to report. These are precisely economic wars engendered to further certain ends. Or that are at least byproducts of a certain economic logic. The capitalist dogma has to keep disseminating this ‘lie’ that it’s doing the greatest possible good for the greatest number of people. But if one believes that one is already in a relatively advantageous position. These ‘lies’ are no different than those of nation-states forever believing in the purity of their national missions.

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    • Satyam, I must apologize if my note or the tone of it in any way seemed to suggest that it is okay to lose and/or reflected a denial of our inability to have an Olympics record relative to our population. I would be the last person to champion mediocrity. And that is precisely what I have attempted to warn against. In the performances of Dipa, Sakshi, Sindhu and others listed above, can you say that winning did not matter to them? Of the 117 players that have been sent to Rio, I haven’t suggested that everyone’s efforts be lauded… but there are those that have risen above the circumstances, done the best with the facilities provided to them and excelled despite everything instead of because of it. One cannot look at India’s record at the Olympics in isolation… and this is not a case of ‘us poor Indians’ either. But one cannot divorce the ground realities from the output and results. Presently India lacks an interest in sports other than cricket (which itself wasn’t swimming in riches until 3-4 decades back), and what is needed are narratives of heroes and heroines despite and against odds to inspire an entire generation to get into these other sports, narratives to help generate revenue needed to pump into the system and build an infrastructure. And this is where I fear we are displaying a lack of foresight if we don’t acknowledge the achievements of a Dipa or Aditi or Dattu. When Bangladesh defeated Pakistan in that one match in the World Cup, it did a world of good to their confidence… would it have been fair to suggest then to them ‘World Cup toh nahin jeeta na!”. When an Iceland performs against and beyond expectations at the Euro… it creates heroes to inspire a generation. Even the Indian cricket team began to believe that it could win tests abroad when it started drawing them. In the larger scheme of a narrative, the road to winning is in noticing the small steps towards it. If we do not acknowledge these who have genuinely done well now, we will condemn them and their sports to anonymity and again come full circle to the next Olympics and wonder why India doesn’t win medals. To give the example of the Great Britain, the UK ashamed with its Olympic results in the late 80s in 1990 instituted a National Lottery to help fund and create infrastructure… the results are there for everyone to see. These things take time. Again, there are no excuses for losing. But given the mindset and other problems (and no, this is not something that affects other walks of life in India… hobbies and passions are still intricately linked with how lucrative a profession they can be in India, so in that sense an offbeat sport is very difficult to pursue, if you have convinced your folks to let you pursue it first), we need to acknowledge a sporting star when we see one. And it is here where it is not only about winning. Although one doesn’t mean therefore that it is okay to lose.

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      • Again very little to disagree with here Abzee. And as my various responses have made clear here I am not arguing against those great individual performances. I am arguing against Indian institutions (or lack thereof) in this sense. So I am hardly against celebrating these achievements. But in much of the commentary one has bled into the other. So celebrating these athletes becomes automatically a celebration of India and if one questions the latter one immediately generates a certain kind of ire. As Krrish pointed out earlier these athletes have done well despite the system and so one can hardly celebrate the system. One can hope this leads to better things for India and that those institutions are finally developed to the point where India becomes a more serious contender. Again Bangladesh doing well in a WC or Iceland doing the same is not the same example. Because no one expects these countries to be champions in any situation. If they do more power to them but that’s not a reasonable expectation to begin with. However for a country the size of India to win a lot more medals than it does is not unrealistic. If it doesn’t happen it’s because of the same institutional reasons. But Iceland isn’t not doing better for these reasons! Bangladesh by the way could easily be a major force in international cricket if they developed the right talent pool. Because they certainly have the population for it! and the UK example also proves my point. Precisely because there are certain historic expectations attached to Britain. Once more the individual achievements are great. It would be nuts to argue against them. And it’s also great that Indians did well in this sense. But it hardly rebounds to India’s credit in the systemic sense. And so if one gets carried away and starts talking about it in the most glowing terms without placing things in context this is a narrative that needs to be resisted. This is my only point. So I don’t think we’re disagreeing very much.

        On a related note I do think that in India cricket has prospered, specially in the contemporary age, inasmuch as it has become the perfect marriage of sports and entertainment. Now of course this is always the case, certainly in the age of satellite TV. However in India you have all the other celebrities (from actors to corporate tycoons) who are always part of the mix. This takes the entertainment angle to a different level. Of course T-20 helps too. We see the same format being replicated in kabbadi or the ISL (however well or not these sports do eventually it’s the same mix). Meanwhile hockey has completely faded from the popular consciousness. again not surprisingly. You can’t imagine that game exciting too many people today.

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        • Completely agree. As you have rightly pointed out that very often the narratives bleed into each other… I do not intend to trumpet some misguided notion of jingoistic pride and resist it myself. However the contrary is also true and very often in decrying the lack of institutions and/or systems to create champions, we forget or refuse to fete those who have triumphed against odds. That is all.

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  4. I know every medal for every sport is great in itself espcially for India but personally for me.. Leander Paes remarkable Bronze in 1996 is unmatchable. Firstly Tennis is widely played game and its very long contest and then to enter as Wild Card(not even in Top 100) and then continue to beat top players of the world and finally losing to Andre Agassi(who was #1) in Semi’s and then beating another runner of Semi’s to win the bronze is stuff of legends in Olympics.

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  5. PV Sindhu lost.. but won SILVER for India!!

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    • Marin is about twice the player that Sindhu is. That she got so close is itself an achievement. The only way she could have won was if Marin’s nerves got the better of her.

      In fact, Marin’s movement is so precise and graceful, I was reminded of Federer’s class in Tennis. No kidding!

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      • Having said that, Sindhu could have used her height to an advantage…and also could have been more aggressive from the second game onwards. Marin pretty much owned her after the first game.

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  6. Wrote couple of days back:

    https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/rustom-mohenjo-daro-the-rest-of-the-box-office/#comment-334437

    The same paradigm is there in jobs. Previously parents wanted kids to be Doctor, Engineer or IAS. Now also it is valid but people are going in other fields.

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  7. According to Transparency Index ratings, about 50% of all medals have been won by countries that rank very high on the least corrupt nations list. UK has a rating of 81 (Denmark is highest at 91) and is second on the medal list. USA has a rating of 76 and is first!

    The only countries that are high on corruption and yet have registered a significant medal tally have a communist background (China, Russia, North Korea). These are states that come from a backdrop where the Olympics was a battleground to prove the supremacy of their ideology — and they left no stone unturned in their quest to display the supremacy of their ways. Russia is in fact quite lucky not to have been disqualified for state-sponsored doping just before the Rio Olympics. In any case, the stakes for these countries are entirely different.

    Abhinav Bindra mentioned a Guardian article quoting the cost of procuring a medal for Great Britain — something to the tune of 5.5 million GBP. Things won’t change in India until that amount of money actually trickles down to the grassroots level or unless there’s a push to consider Olympics as a battleground of sorts for India to publicly display its might. Minus these two reasons, I don’t see any way in which India can actually be a world beating contingent at the Olympics.

    Finally, there’s one man — Pullella Gopichand — who has demonstrated, singlehandedly, how to produce world class players in a sport that’s not played by 11 players. Thanks to him there are more Indian players in the top 100 Badminton rankings than any other nation in the world. Please let that fact sink in for a moment. And here’s a factoid for public consumption: Gopichand mortgaged his own house to create a world class Badminton training facility in Hyderabad.

    He’s India’s pride and also a stark reminder of how the corrupt system needs to be completely overhauled, in order to get better results.

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  8. I know I will be chastised here for saying this but why don’t we go to bit of basics and tie this to race / genes. Though it’s a bit of stereotyped thinking, we should accept ideas about race related physical differences …for instance it is a known fact African Americans are disproportionately represented in sports such as basketball, football, and track and boxing and are underrepresented in activities such as soccer, hockey, swimming, tennis, golf, and skating…..and there is some truth to this pattern. For example in swimming it is widely acknowledged, different races have dissimilar levels of buoyancy and an african american believes that he/she will never be a competitive swimmer because of a lack of buoyancy, but thinks that he/she has a biological advantage in sprinting and will probably self-select into the latter activity. By the same token, if a white child believes that he can not jump high because of race based physical limitations, but has the hand-eye coordination necessary for a sport like tennis, he too will direct his energies to that which he thinks will bring him success.

    So as Jayshah pointed in the other thread like the Brits, we should be shrewd in our investments and focus on fields where we have a possibility to excel /dominate and should be focusing on our core basic sports like wrestling, badminton, hockey, archery, shooting etc…to reach Olympic level of excellence.

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    • Thanks to the IPL and the popularity of cricket in India, it’s (cricket) a legitimate option for young children hoping to make a career/living in sports.

      Contrast this to the state of other sports in India — you get a Government job and a piece of land in case you are lucky enough to win a medal at a world event. It’s no wonder only the lower middle class or the poor stand to benefit from such a ‘bountiful’ offer!

      In Udta Punjab Alia Bhatt’s character is a national level hockey player who’s forced to work as a bonded laborer after her father’s death. These things are hardly uncommon in India!

      All this talk of ‘race’ and horses for courses can come later…there are far bigger problems to tackle in a country like India!

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    • I dislike racial explanations for all sorts of reasons. The sports you’ve listed can far more easily be explained away in terms of class rather than race. Including swimming.. yes! Check out this article from just the other day. Now basketball might be a bit of an exception because of the height issue (that’s still not racial though because whites from many Eastern European countries do rather well as long as they’re tall enough). And it’s a much stronger tradition within African-American communities. In other words tall whites could play the game as easily. But consider football (American). the most brutal sport of all and you have blacks and whites. As long as you have the height and weight you can get in. Take cricket. Are the greatest batsmen really the biggest guys? Is this true even for fast bowlers? You had the West Indian battery but then you also had the Pakistanis. Now the rest of your response is about acculturation and that’s much closer to the truth. But this isn’t about race.

      As a general point I’d say that no sport is simply about brute strength, not even American football (a very rough game but also an extremely strategic one). The larger skill set that goes into preparing a great athlete certainly requires (and specially these days) very high levels of fitness (but that’s different from obvious physical attributes) but all sorts of other abilities and intangibles as well. Most importantly it requires a tradition. Why are there so many Eastern European players in tennis? Why not as many Germans let alone French or Italian players? Just on the same continent with racial groups that are not as different as say whites/blacks and where cultural factors are not dramatically different you see these divergences. To quote a very wise theorist in life (and not just in sports) ‘history’ often ‘masquerades as nature’. What we consider to be natural is simply the result of a history. why aren’t African teams winning the WC all the time? But then why is Pele arguably the greatest of all time? Why do ‘blacks’ suddenly become so brilliant when they’re playing in Latin America (soccer) or rather good (at least) when they’re in Europe?

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    • As for being shrewd in our investments, who are the people who are going to be in charge of these investments?

      Suresh Kalmadi, he of the common wealth games corruption scandal? or Vijay Goel who couldn’t type Dipa Karmarkar’s name properly on twitter? And what business does Salman Khan have in being an ambassador for Olympic sports in India? What business, in fact, does he have in being an ambassador at all?

      Do people even realize what the problem is?

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  9. Most Indians rather invest in coaching classes where something is assured. It is like one level thing easy to focus. Sports is a difficult territory where nothing is assured. Doping, injuries and an uncertain future. Somewhat like making good in films. Very few can get to the right level. We generally want our loved ones settle. Education, job, marriage and kids. Own a house and start saving for that rainy day.

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    • This is quite true. Even India’s Olympic heroes owe it to their parents who usually were first generation sports figures for India.

      Leander Paes’ father played hockey; P V Sindhu’s father is an Arjun awardee for Volleyball (if I’m not wrong). One has to be a sports enthusiast to seriously consider sending one’s child into sports!

      VVS Laxman, on the other hand, came from a family of Doctors and even though he was a very bright student (scored in the high 90s at school) he decided to take up cricket as a career. These kind of examples are very few. In those days, cricket wasn’t as lucrative a sport in India as it is now.

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      • Viren Rasquinha, an Indian hockey captain in the past, retired from hockey at a premature age and opted for an MBA degree! The reason was purely financial.

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  10. It’s also heartening to note that we now have Bollywood films coming out on sports personalities and some of them have been quite successful as well. This is always a good sign and it implies that the culture is definitely changing.

    In the past few years we’ve had Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mary Kom, Azhar and now a film on MSD. I hope this trend continues, and someone would make a film on Dhyanchand someday!

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  11. Former world No. 1 shuttler Saina Nehwal will undergo a knee surgery in Mumbai on Saturday morning.

    Saina, who played two matches at the Rio Olympics with heavily strapped knees manage one win, found her movement increasingly stifled due to the injury. In fact, she had to take a painkiller injection before she took to the court in her second group match against Ukraine’s Marija Ulitina. She will get her knee operated upon by Dr. Dinshaw Pardiwala at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital & Medical Research Institute.

    Top Comment
    Now your unfair critics will know why you lost to a much lower-ranked player. You and Sindhu are like two eyes to Indian woman”s badminton.I wish you complete recovery.Babu Rajendran Chandran

    Saina, the bronze medal winner at the London 2012 Olympics, was carrying an injury, but had recovered dramatically in the run-up to the Rio Games and was expected to put up a strong challenge along with her compatriots Sindhu, the women’s doubles pair and Kidambi Srikanth. Sindhu went on to script history becoming India’s youngest individual medalist when she took silver in the women’s singles event, while Kidambi lost to Lin Dan in the quarter-finals.

    We wish our champion shuttler and winner of the Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) Youth Icon of India award, the very best and a quick recovery. We are sure we would see her soon where she belongs, in the badminton court, making mincemeat of her opposition.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/badminton/Saina-Nehwal-to-undergo-knee-surgery-tomorrow/articleshow/53777118.cms

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  12. Did anyone watch Bolt get his triple triple last night? this guy ain’t human!

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  13. Six ways to fix India’s flawed, deluded, meandering, impractical Olympic strategy

    The way forward is not difficult to map. All it needs is the will. And, possibly, the exit of politicians and greedy sports administrators, who should be replaced with people who have actually played sports and built their lives around it. India does not lack in champions.

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  14. India’s Olympians deserve a medal just for putting up with their country’s officials

    Take, for instance, India’s sports minister himself. Vijay Goel’s gaffes on social media – mixing up athletes’ names and photos and misspelling the name of India’s star gymnast, Dipa Karmakar – have gone viral. What’s worse, Goel came close to losing his Olympics accreditation after the organisers complained about his entourage’s “aggressive and rude” behaviour. Forget corrective action, Goel doesn’t seem to have even realised the bizarreness of his howlers or hinted at any remorse over his team’s unruliness.

    Ironically, many of these delegates flew business class to the Brazilian city, unlike the athletes themselves. Sprinter Dutee Chand, for instance, endured a 36-hour flight in economy class on a plane that had managers and other delegates travelling business class.

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  15. http://www.thehindu.com/thread/sports/article9011704.ece?homepage=true

    The man behind sindhu , saina, srikanth and many others.

    Hope his academy gets some benefit so that we can have many more of them.

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  16. I was watching this marathon on TV and it was not only sad but unconscionable as India had more than 75 officials and none of them turned up !

    Rio 2016: No water, no officials as Jaisha struggles to complete marathon

    “Though there were officials from all other countries to provide refreshments to their runners at designated points -after every 2.5 km -there was no one from India and our desks were empty next to the country’s name and flag,” a distraught Jaisha told TOI here recalling her ordeal.

    “I don’t know how I managed to finish without getting enough water to drink. The organizers provided water and sponge only at 8-km intervals. The water from these stations lasted hardly 500m and it was almost impossible to run after the 30-km mark under the scorching sun,” said Jaisha, who finished the race in 2 hours, 47.19s. She had clocked 2:34.43s in Beijing Worlds last year to finish 18th.

    “While other athletes had the luxury of taking glucose, honey etc there was nothing for us (Jaisha and Kavita) to drink at our stations. Not even water,” Jaisha said, her voice choking with emotion.
    The experienced distance runner said she collapsed at the end of the race and didn’t know what happened till she regained consciousness after 2-3 hours. “They injected seven bottles of glucose to help me recover. I didn’t see any doctor from our contingent while help came from fellow marathon runner Gopi T and coach Radhakrishnan Nair. Coach Nikolai was also there for few hours before he was taken away by the organizers,” she said.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/rio-2016-olympics/india-in-olympics-2016/athletics/Rio-2016-No-water-no-officials-as-Jaisha-struggles-to-complete-marathon/articleshow/53803826.cms

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  17. Sorry to put 2 disturbing heartbreaking stories early monday, but these caught my eyes during the weekend and are in context to Abzee’s post….lest we forget as Olympics are now done and dusted.

    Far from Rio, a reality: Handball player kills self over sports-quota denial

    As India celebrated PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik’s Rio success, a 20-year-old handball player lay dead in Punjab’s Patiala town, a grim reminder of the reality budding athletes face across the country.
    Pooja Kumari hanged herself in her home on Saturday as she was allegedly denied sports quota that would have got her a free-of-cost room in her college hostel and a proper diet – a luxury for her street-vendor father.

    Pooja was in the second year of BA at General Shivdev Singh Diwan Gurbachan Singh Khalsa College, which says the national player didn’t ask for hostel facility.

    Her suicide note, written in blood, and addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a desperate cry for help. “Mere parivar ki madad karo PM Modi ji (Please help my family, PM Modi),” reads a line.
    As state governments try to outdo each other in promising crores of rupees and other rewards to Sindhu and Sakshi, a monthly bill of Rs 3,720 proved too much for Pooja.

    “I have to think a hundred times before spending five rupees but denial of hostel means I spend Rs 3,720 monthly to reach the college campus… which my family can’t bear,” reads the note, a copy of which is in possession of HT.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/rio-and-a-reality-check-patiala-handball-player-kills-herself-over-denial-of-sports-quota-benefits/story-Ndt2KxKvhikQTL1iTjBcZM.html

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  18. Not sure if this got posted: Sallu fans slam Yogeshwar Dutt!! Typical bwood fanatics

    http://www.dnaindia.com/sport/report-rio-2016-being-inhumane-salman-khan-fans-attack-yogeshwar-dutt-after-his-loss-2247587

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  19. Dipa Karmakar, India’s star gymnast and fourth-place finisher at Rio Olympics, is not only aspiring to be a gold medallist at 2020 Tokyo Games but also hopes to hold a Master of Arts degree soon.

    Dipa appeared for her second semester MA exams on Tuesday, at the Distance Learning Centre of Tripura University, just a day after she arrived in Agartala from Rio. She says she is confident of a Masters Degree in Political Science soon.

    Officials at the Tripura University are amazed at Dipa’s dedication towards academics in spite of her sporting commitments. They say it’s a message to all students who are thinking of making excuses to avoid sitting for exams.

    Director of Distance Education at Tripura University, Dr KB Jamatia told NDTV, “It’s a striking example to other students also. One who plays at the Olympic level can also study side by side to acquire higher education, along with her achievements in sports.”

    Dipa’s family says inspite of gymnastics taking most of her time, Dipa has never neglected her education. She even took her books to Rio so that she could be prepared for this exam during the long break in between her event. Her mother Gouri said: “My daughter always says sports is in its place and education is in its place. She says she has to get a degree.”

    From fellow examinees there was admiration for her dedication to sports and academics. A young man who also appeared for the exam with Dipa, told NDTV, “In our country people are usually given a choice between sports and academics. Dipa Karmakar has proved you can do both. The students of Tripura are extremely proud of her.”

    http://sports.ndtv.com/olympics-2016/news/262163-gymnast-dipa-karmakar-appears-for-ma-exam-a-day-after-returning-from-rio?pfrom=home-topstories

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  20. Polish discus thrower Piotr Malachowski, who took silver at the Rio Olympics, said that he auctioned off his medal this week to fund treatment for a three-year-old boy struck with cancer.

    The 33-year-old world champion wrote on his Facebook page that he was moved to auction his prize after receiving a letter from the mother of a boy called Olek who said he had been battling eye cancer for two years and that treatment in New York was his only hope.

    “I fought for gold in Rio. Today I’m calling on everyone to fight for something even more precious,” Mr. Malachowski wrote to announce the auction.

    “If you help me, my silver medal may turn out to be more precious than gold for Olek,” he said, adding that he would use the entire sum raised to pay for treatment.

    “Success,” he later wrote, saying the medal had found takers.

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/polish-olympian-sells-rio-medal-to-save-threeyearold-battling-cancer/article9037046.ece?homepage=true

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  21. Indian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt’s bronze medal from the London Olympics may be upgraded to silver amid reports that the silver medallist from the 2012 Games– deceased Besik Kudukhov of Russia–has been stripped off his medal for using banned substance.

    As per Russian agency flowrestling.org, the four-time world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Kudukhov, who had died in a car crash in 2013 in southern Russia, has been found positive for dope test conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

    As a result, Yogeshwar, who had bagged a bronze medal in men’s 60kg freestyle category in London Games, may move up from bronze to silver and join Sushil Kumar as another silver medallist from the 2012 Olympics.

    However, the official confirmation will have to come from the United World Wrestling (UWW) and the International Olympic Committee.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/other-sports/wrestler-yogeshwar-dutt-s-london-olympics-bronze-may-turn-into-silver/story-2DcazUZ0laffxSmH6oHSNM.html

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