Should we start believing in miracles now? Let’s Mr. Kalmadi’s assurance to the Indian contingent, and the sport lovers of India, to not expect any miracles in China. And then let’s look at the sheer finesse with which Abhinav Bindra has proved him wrong! This gold medal is a miracle because despite our politicians’ apathy, we have a winner.
Let me repeat – this gold medal is a miracle and, sadly, reasons for that are aplenty. Our annual budget for sports is too paltry, and whatever little is earmarked gets eatenup by administrative expenses rather than the essential training of athletes. Year after year athletes have to put up with pathetic infrastructure and inferior training personnel. Furthermore, our Olympic shooters did not even have a support staff of a physiotherapist or masseur training to help reduce the mental and physical stress. To add to this, there was a time when our shooting team had to scramble to get ammunition for practice. As Mr. Kalmadi admitted, “Our shooters did not have ammunition for such a long while, so it is bound to affect their performance.” Despite all this, we have a winner; a gold medalist! Our athletes’ grit and determination to win despite the odds is simply miraculous.
Now that Bindra has won the first gold for India in the Olympics, our politicians cannot stop gushing about him. Everything revolves around this so-far unsung hero. Praise upon praise is being heaped upon him; reward upon reward is being bestowed upon him. Praising his skills, the Punjab government has announced an award of Rs. 1 crore; Bihar will reward him with Rs. 11 lakh, and the indoor unit of a stadium in Kankerbagh would be named after him; BCCI will be doling out Rs. 25 lakhs for this star; and other states are announcing goodies too. But, where was this support when it was actually needed? Where were our politicians and their loose purses when our shooters were in dire need of ammunition to practice? And why is the plight of the athletes still being ignored? While the US of A had a powerhouse of 596 athletes, our contingent consisted of a meager 52 athletes. In terms of the total Olympic medal tallied, India ranks even behind Nigeria, a country whose economy is one-twentieth of its size. Do our politicians not feel the need to comment on “feats” such as these as well?
However, whatever said and done, this indeed is a glorious moment for us, and of course for the Bindra family. Not one to forget marriage amidst celebration, Mrs Bindra assured the CNN-IBN interviewer Jyoti Kamal that all mothers would realize how much of an ‘eligible bachelor’ Abhinav is. Abhinav has vindicated his parents for all the faith they had in him. Even four years ago he had been expected to win a medal but in the finals, he shot his worst series. His position went down from a cool third to seventh. Even then he had said, “An Olympic medal is my goal and I will not be satisfied till I get it.” His parents sure were supportive; his family has spent millions of rupees to whet his Olympic dreams, so much so that he had his own private shooting range at home. Now his proud father will be gifting him a five-star hotel.
Shadowed by him, is another great victory by India. Saina Nehwal stunned the world no.6 and fourth seed Chen Wang of Hong Kong and stormed into the quarterfinals of women’s singles badminton competition. This eighteen year old is sure keeping alive the forgotten sport of Badminton. While we are congratulating the entire Bindra family, let us not forget the other Indian athletes who need a pat on the back too. Not all of them can afford to have a private shooting ground or such luxuries and hence the mere fact that they qualified for the Olympics despite the politicking and inferior training is praiseworthy itself. They keep up the hopes of future sportspeople.
Abhinav Bindra has made history and created a niche for himself and the Indian community. Getting rid of bureaucratic strangles, red tapism and public apathy should be the first step taken so that India can have more such miracles. For now, this Singh of ours is King!
[Image Source: http://images.tvnz.co.nz/tvnz_images/sport/olympics_2008/athletes_in_beijing/shooting/bindra_gold_z.jpg]