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Way forward for India to improve Olympic performance
On Sunday 21st August 2016, Rio Olympics 2016 came to an end with a bang matching with the scintillating opening ceremony. The glimpses of Japanese presentation towards the end with the message 'See you in Tokyo' leave us to our imagination what more to expect in 2020 at Tokyo.
Never an Olympic power, India returned home with a silver and bronze in Women's singles badminton (P V Sindhu) and Women's 58kg freestyle wrestling (Sakshi Malik) respectively despite sending a record 118 athletes to Rio.

This is four less than the number of medals India won at London 2012 Olympics. While the medal winners are being showered with cash rewards, gifts, sports awards and other accolades, there is a talk going on about the girl power that saved India from complete humiliation at the Rio. To me this talk is useless as it is detrimental to the interests of sports and sportspersons if a comparison is made based on gender. In sports, winning is never easy and calls for extensive hard work and dedication with a little luck.

Dipa Karmakar would have won a silver if her Produnova vault landed just a shade better. Abhinav Bindra missed by just 0.1 point. Similarly, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza had two shots at a medal in mixed doubles in Tennis which they spoiled.

Considering the 4th place finishes as medals, India would have got 5 medals. Still it is a low considering the fact that India is the second largest country in terms of population.

Why India lags so much behind other countries in Olympics? Many experts have aired their views in TV channels, newspapers, online platforms and social media etc. The talk will continue for a week or so and then everybody will forget it till another disappointment four years later.

I think India has got the talent, but lack of infrastructure, policy and care for athletes contribute to India's dismal performance in world of sports.

I have some suggestions for the government to consider.

Talent Hunt

India has no dearth of talent. The point is, are we searching for talent? If yes, then from where? I think India should have a four tier mechanism (Block level, District level, State level and National level) to identify talents. India has more talent in rural areas. You can find very good swimmers and runners in Indian villages. They are never spotted as a talent. That is why block level games are important to identify potential medal winners to nurture.

Athletics and Swimming have the maximum medals in Olympics. Bring these games to rural India and we may be talking about an Indian Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps in four years' time.

These games should be highly advertised and covered in media the same way we cover cricket matches. People should be motivated to take up Sports as a career and this can only happen when Olympic sports get the desired attention.

Organize Olympics in India

India was not a cricket crazy nation until Kapil's devils won the World Cup for us in 1983. The staging of World Cup in 1987 added more fuel to the fire. Now, cricket is a religion in India and India is a super power in cricket. Similarly, if India organizes Olympics, then there will be revolution in Olympic sports as well and in a very short time India will find it among top 10 sporting countries.

Sports persons as administrators

Sports administration should be left to sportspersons who understand the mindset of players. The politicians holding positions in a sports body should be scrapped immediately. Even the sports minister should be an ex-sportsperson. This will alleviate the problem of corruption, bias, favoritism to a large extent and India can grow in sports.

Government-Private partnership

The private companies should come forward to adopt a particular sports discipline and take necessary steps to generate medal winners. For instance, Reliance may look for athletics and Wrestling, Tata for Archery and Swimming, Infosys for Shooting, Jindal for Boxing etc. They can do it as part of their CSR activities. The government should take step in this regard by forging a fruitful partnership with private entities.

Special enhanced budget for Sports

This is where the government has a lot to offer. Sportspersons want nutrition, facility, infrastructure and a job. So, there has to be fat budget to cater to this.

Let Champions make Champions

What Pulela Gopichand did is an eye opener. A champion player during his playing days, Gopichand took all the pain and hardship to produce two medal winners for us in the form of Saina Nehwal (Bronze in 2012 Olympics) and P V Sindhu. He had to mortgage his house to generate money to coach badminton players. So, it follows that champions can produce more champions by coaching.

So the Bindras, Narangs, Dipas, Dipikas, Sushils, etc. should be funded by government in case they want to open coaching institution for their respective disciplines. Not everyone will be as dedicated as Gopichand to use own money to coach players. So, the government or private help is mandatory.

There is a golden saying which goes as follows: "If you do what you have been doing, then you get what you have been getting". This so aptly applies to Indian sport. We need to change and we need to do differently if we want to see India as a sporting super power.

It is very pathetic not to win even a single gold medal in Olympics. 'India can and India will" provided the people who call shots for sports in India wake up from their hibernation and PM Narendra Modi intervenes to make a billion people's dream a reality.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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