Athletics in India: An Underrated Field

Cricket in India is nothing short of a religion. Especially after the recent success that the team has garnered, it is bound to be elevated to such a level. Yet as they say, there is always a positive and negative effect of everything. We have seen the positive, the negative is that it over-shadows other sports by its presence, our national game hockey, too is not an exception. No other sport attracts as much audience as cricket does. We perhaps are still not over the British hangover. Although now various other sports are coming to the limelight, thanks to the young generation bringing laurels to the country.

However, we cannot deny that India is still a far cry from making sports a fascination among youths, apart from cricket. Or perhaps the government is not trying hard enough. Athletics in India is the field least attended to. There are so many people in this country who are naturally good at some or the other athletic game but are not encouraged. The country has seen several runners, weightlifters, swimmers and very recently, even boxers, who have won accolades abroad, but unfortunately remain unsung in their own homeland. It is not sufficient that they be awarded for their achievements but, it is important that many more who look up to these men and women as their ideals, be provided with apt facilities to hone their skills. That, I believe , would be a real tribute.

It is unfortunate that the government is not taking up this issue seriously. Recently when Vijendra Kumar won a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics 2008 for boxing, he said, in an interview, that they used to practice in a village akhada and were not provided any sort of facilities by the state. Another piece of news said that a girl from a certain village started practicing shooting more vigorously after she saw Abhinav Bindra win a gold medal in the same Olympics of 2008. Yet again the state failed to provide any sort of help to the girl. Such is the sorry state of athletics in our country.

Lack of proper infrastructural facilities and funding is leading to the decay of athletics in India. People who wish to become athletes are discouraged due to a lack of future in this field. As a result the country misses out on several talented athletes. Perhaps, if the government could put in a little more effort and interest in improving this field, we may find global icons in our country itself. Now, with the Commonwealth Games approaching, this is the apt time to put more emphasis on this issue. Instead of investing into funds for improving the state infrastructure if a little was put into improving the athletics’ infrastructure, we may win some medals as well, apart from appreciation for beautifying the city. For, one thing that we can be sure of is that—India’s sure got talent.

Ekta Rai

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