Finally, the 2016 Rio Olympics ended on Sunday 21st August amidst a lot of fanfare in Rio’s Maracana Stadium. The closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics was marked by fireworks and cultural presentations from Brazil and Japan, the host of the next 2020 Olympics. More than 11,000 athletes from 207 nations around the world took part in this mega event.
India competed at the Summer Olympics 2016 with the Indian Olympic Association sending over 117 athletes in various categories – the largest ever delegation from India in Summer Olympic history. We can very well say that it’s women’s triumph and women shining all the way at Rio, with heart-winning performances from Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik and P.V. Sindhu. Sakshi won a bronze, becoming the first Indian female wrestler to bag a medal at the Olympics while P.V. Sindhu clinched a silver medal, the first ever for any Indian woman at the games. She is also the youngest Indian shuttler to win an Olympic medal. Although she didn’t win a medal, Dipa Karmakar wove magic with her enthralling gymnastics and won a million hearts! She is also the first ever Indian female gymnast to participate at the Olympics.
On the 12th Day of Rio Olympics, Sakshi Malik, the Indian freestyle wrestler succeeded in bagging the much coveted bronze medal in women wrestling. With this victory, the dry spell in Rio Olympics for Indian sports ended followed by yet another memorable victory. Pusarla Venkata Sindhu became the first Indian woman to reach the finals of Olympics badminton championship by defeating sixth-ranked Nozomi Okuhara at the Rio Olympics 2016. She created history by winning the silver medal in the 83-minute match against top seeded Spaniard Carolina Marin, becoming the youngest and first Indian woman to bag Olympic silver medal representing India. Dipa Karmakar, hailing from Tripura, Agartala, attained the 4th position in women’s vault gymnastics at Rio with a commendable overall score. This young gymnast showcased a stellar performance which has already made her a champion.
By sending the largest number of athletes compared to 2012, the Indian Olympic Association had high hopes and expectations from the participants this year. Having high aspiration and making it to the forefront are two separate things that need to be understood first. A very common question that irritates majority of non-sports people like me is that why India cannot bring forth and nurture sportsmen of the same caliber like their international counterparts? Why promising athletes aren’t given proper equipment, funding or even appropriate guidance to compete at international levels? Being the sixth most populous country in the world, does a genetic reason really work in lagging behind or there is something else? Let us try to find the answers below…
Besides lack of proper infrastructure, state of mind of majority of average Indians reinforces the condition that we are going through. We see most Indian parents motivating their children to take up engineering or management as career opportunities, but very few actually encourage their children to engage in sports and make a career out of it. When bright and talented athletes like Sakshi, Sindhu and Dipa perform at international events and win medals for India, we have something to cheer about and felicitate them warmly once they are back home, but we never encourage our children to pursue what they love – be it sports or something else! How ludicrous and paradoxical! We are full of contradictions with all our energies, funding and time invested in cricket and nothing else! Ours is a country where “Beti bachao, beti padao aur beti ko khilao,” is needed to be preached and inculcated in average Indian mind! We cannot produce and provide for competent sportsmen like the West, but we surely know how to criticize and dampen their morale! In midst of all such adversities, young athletes like Dipa, Sakshi and Sindhu are actually creating the right example for future sportspeople and their parents! Kudos to them!