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Why India has won only 20 Olympic medals in 10 decades?
''WHAT IS important is participating, not winning,'' seems to be an apt phrase for the Indian Olympics team till date. Ever since India firt participated in the Olympics in 1900, India has only won 20 medals. Simple calculation shows India has won only one medal per five Olympics. No wonder, India is considered as the biggest underachiever in Olympics. It is a failure for sports in India to have showcased such a dismal performance so consistently. The reasons for it are many, but still nothing has been done to improve the situation. It would be no surprise when India comes back from London Olympics 2012 with 3-4 medals (maximum) to show for themselves or even less.

For a nation to be successful at an event like the Olympics, champions can't be created overnight. From a very small age they require basic training with proper facilities. But one look at the sporting culture in India at the school level leaves many a things to be desired. Sunita Godara, Gold medalist for Marathon, 1992 Asian championship says, ?There are no proper facilities in government schools to nurture children in the field of sports, even if they are good at it?.

Ashwini Nachappa, an Olympian (1988, South Korea) says, ?Sports is considered to be a hobby, a co?curricular activity in most of the schools in India?. She further adds and says, every school needs to have a playground and sports should be made mandatory. But, it may be difficult to execute Nachappa?s ideas, as many parents in India want their sons and daughters to be an IIT or IIM passout, doctor, engineer, etc. They believe that academics is more important than sports - irrespective of their child being good at a particular sport. No one can blame parents too, as they want their children to make a decent career, and sports definitely does not give that luxury, unless you become a top athlete or an average cricketer. Else, there is so much of raw talent in our country in both the rural and urban areas.

Subodh, Director for Destination Sports Pvt Ltd, which works in developing sports at the grass root level says, ?If one looks at talent in the country, there is no dearth of talent from a very small age. For instance, if there is a world championship in swimming in Under-5 category, swimmers from Kerala would win the title easily, such is the talent, but there is no one to groom the talent?. This has to be India?s main reason for failure at the Olympic Games.  

India?s failure in Olympics can also be attributed to the Indian sports administrative system, which is corrupt. The recent Commonwealth Games is the best example, where corruption was seen at an all-time high; culminating in the imprisonment of Suresh Kalmadi. When money is not used in the development of sports and its training facilities, how can one assume the sport or the athletes to bring laurels to the country, when they do not have good training facilities to train themselves with?

Incompetent, and worse apathetic, political leadership, has also played an important role in India?s failure in Olympics. PT Usha, one of India?s best athletes, on her own, has been putting her best foot forward to help Indian athletes grow and bring laurels to the country in the Olympics by setting up a PT Usha school. But her school has been struggling with funds. She has not been able to give proper training to her students on synthetic tracks, hence the existence of the school sometimes come into question. Even when an Olympian is ready to train athletes, the government seems to have turned a blind eye.

PT USha was a rare Olympian who is mostly remembered for her efforts during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she was very unfortunate to lose out on a medal. In fact, she might have been the only athlete during the 1984 Games, who reached such heights without any kind of proper training. She trained in difficult conditions, not on normal track and field tracks, but on mud tracks, and she had no proper access to gym facilities. It was only after she came into the limelight during the Games that the government took notice of her.

Godara says, ?There is no support for sportspersons, while they are training for the Games, but only after they become champion that the government does something for them. In reality, they become champions on their own?. The same holds true for a number of athletes, who have brought medals in top sporting championships.

The Indian athletes are also not rewarded handsomely after bringing so much glory to the nation in Olympics too. Hence, why would people think of representing India at the Olympics? Sushil Kumar, after his heroics in the last Olympics Games received 50 lakhs from Delhi Government, while Delhi CM announced a prize reward of Rs.2 crore for the Indian captain, MS Dhoni for winning the world cup and four other Delhi players were also awarded one crore each. Is this not discrimination with sports in general?

But, Nachappa does not blame cricket taking the headlines. She says, ?Cricket is very professional in approach, unlike other sports?. The Indian cricket team has all the best trainers, coaches, and psyhios, etc., whereas other sports federations lack manpower along with good planning. BCCI has the best marketing strategy, too. Other sports federations need to learn from them, if they are to be considered to be a threat in the Olympics.  

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