Olympic Medal = Miracle?

According to Suresh Kalmadi, the chief of India’s Olympic Association – a medal at the Beijing Games for India would be a “miracle”. Well, most of us aren’t really expecting anything beyond our performances in the previous Olympic games. However, when the chief of the organization that represents the country at the Olympics makes such a statement a couple of weeks before the Games begin – it is shameful.

Sure for a country of 1.1 billion people to win just a paltry medal at the Olympics is disappointing, but there still are a lot of those in the contingent this time around who have a chance to win. There is a star-studded shooting squad, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, who despite their differences can never be counted out, along with the archery and boxing teams that have always come close on previous occasions but end missing out by the thinnest of margins. At this time what they need is a confidence boost, even if that means giving false hope. There is nothing worse that giving up before even trying.

For some reason, the past couple of days Kalmadi seems to want to talk more about the Rs 700 crores that the government has provided the IOA with for preparing athletes for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. While speaking at the bon voyage ceremony for the Indian contingent, in the presence of Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan, Kalmadi actually pleaded with the Chinese to help India train and develop athletes, saying “You people are amongst the top two performers in the world in Olympics. Come on, help your Indian friends improve their tally. It is your responsibility.”

Kalmadi’s words make it seem like the money the government has provided to the IOA is some kind of measure to prevent India from embarrassing itself when it hosts the Commonwealth Games. Help from China isn’t going to help us achieve the “miracle”, as Kalmadi has termed it, and it is a wonder the amount the 700 crores would help if all of it doesn’t reach where it should. Indian sport is in a sorry state due to the apathy of his predecessors, along with the heads of the sporting foundations. We have already seen what happened with Indian hockey thanks to the IHF, and other sports to could head the same way if sweeping changes that regarding the authorities aren’t made soon.

All I can hope for is that Kalmadi’s words haven’t deflated anyone. Since winning medals is already such a rare case for India – it would be horrible if one that was within grasp is lost because of such foolish remarks. Hopefully in the weeks following 08/08/08, we would see some “miracles”.

Raveesh Bhalla

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