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Put system in place before it is too late

Saba Nayakan
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Sushil Kumar poses with his silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games (file photo).
PTI Sushil Kumar poses with his silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games (file photo).

As an overwhelmed nation celebrated the six-medal haul at the just concluded 30th Olympiad in London, the two silver and four bronze medallists went through countless felicitations in what could be termed as a pleasant yet punishing schedule.

Starting from the newly-elected President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, the PM to Union ministers of all hues, captains of industries, national federations and their ilk competed to be part of history.

At the end of it all, the celebrated six — the two silver medallists, Vijay Kumar and Sushil Kumar, and the four bronze winners , Gagan Narang, Saina Nehwal, M.C. Mary Kom and Yogheswar Dutt — were not complaining.

At each function, the offering was generous — making the celebrated six enjoy every moment of the adulation showered on them.

Going by past experience, the felicitations are expected to carry on for some more weeks in various parts of the country. It is being projected that India will win 15 medals at the 2016 Games in Brazil and 25 at the 2020 Games. The figures are quite realistic in the sense that India has the talent pool and knowhow to achieve it.

Systemic Strength

The question is, how good is the system for the country to pursue such goals?

The need of the hour is to identify the right discipline, hire suitable foreign coaches and decide the core group of sportspersons for training, keeping in mind the two Games. Time is of paramount importance.

Countries who dominate the World and Olympic arena have had a system in place for many decades now. India has none! This can be proved from the simple fact that when India left for London, the entire nation was expecting the medal winners of the Beijing Games to come good again.

Had there been a sound system, Narang would also have been one of the medal hopes as much as Abhinav Bindra. Joydeep Karmakar’s fourth place finish would not have come as a surprise. Mary Kom would have been a sure shot bronze medal winner and not a silver or gold medal contender.

Only in the case of Saina, a system had backed her and she was expected to be in the semi-finals — which she did. Even though there were no predictions about wrestling, Dutt’s bronze medal winning performance rubbed on Sushil, who defeated the reigning Olympic champion in the opening round and went on to enter the final.

It is imperative that a system needs to be established in each discipline at the earliest. The government, the national sports federations and the Sports Authority of India should ensure it at the earliest and compulsorily depute an IAS officer with sporting background and interest to run the show. The results are bound to follow.

sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 19, 2012)
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