In less than a week, it will be curtains for the 30th Olympic Games in London. India, however, enjoyed three spectacular triumphs through shooting and badminton, the latter for the first time ever, during the past week. Will India be able to go past the three-medal haul achieved at Beijing four years back?

Amid many painful disappointments starting from archery to tennis, the country earned a silver and bronze through shooters Subedar Vijay Kumar Sharma of the 16th battalion of Dogra Regiment (25-m rapid fire pistol) and Gagan Narang (10-m Air Rifle) respectively to bring in a lot of cheer to their compatriots.

Saina Nehwal’s bronze in badminton, though in completely anti-climatic circumstances, gave the 1.3 billion much to shout about. India can still hope for a few more medals from boxing and freestyle wrestling before the Games conclude on August 12.

Rifle shooter Joydeep Karmakar’s fourth place finish in the 50-m prone could have been a bronze effort with a bit of luck. But then, the shooter himself felt his fight against all odds to reach fourth was his biggest triumph. His battle has just begun! Among the success stories of the Games thus far, there were three splendid performances needed to be highlighted.

Discus thrower Krishna Poonia’s entry into the 12-woman final and her creditable seventh-place finish, walker K.T. Irfan’s 10th place finish in 20-k.m. walk with a new National record and men Parupalli Kashyap’s heart-warming display in the men’s singles before losing to World No. 2 from Malaysia, Lee Chong Wei. Thus he became the first man from India to play in quarterfinal match at the Olympics.

Vital role

Apart from the Union Government and State Governments being the biggest supporters of sport in India in terms of funding, the vital roles played by a few independent organisations cannot be overlooked.

The Olympic Gold Quest, a brain child of some of the country's finest sporting talents, is in the forefront in supporting the potential talent by way of funding or giving human resource support. So also the Mittal Champions Trust which has been providing funds for foreign exposure and in some cases the services of foreign coaches at home.

The Pune-based Lakshya has been floated by a handful of sports enthusiasts whose aim is to identify and develop the potential talent at the grass-root level with the sole purpose of helping India win Olympic medal.

And last but not the least, the methodical work by Indian Army in producing world beaters with courage and commitment. If more corporations are willing to come up with their own support system, India can really look up to fare far better than the past two Games.

Among many success stories of the Olympics, the one that left a lasting impression is that of Michael Phelps. The American completed a medal haul of 22 (18 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze) in four Games. There can never be a bigger success story than this to inspire generations of sportspersons.

After all, Olympics is all about human endeavour.

sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 5, 2012)
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