They say a good beginning is a battle half won and if the grand opening ceremony of the commonwealth games 2010 is anything to go by, India has managed successfully to not only erase the scars of the past few weeks, it has shown to the carping world that this developing country has finally arrived.
But when it comes to a mega event like the commonwealth games, the feel good factor of a grand beginning cannot last more than a day unless there is more good news to top it up in style. And in a sporting event that surely means good news in sports.
Day one for India did not end with a Gold medal but it did introduce to the world another facet of the Indian sports contingent that had hitherto not been seen. The change in attitude. Call it home country advantage, increased exposure to international events or just increase in self esteem, but the sportsmen in all events be it weightlifting, wrestling, tennis, badminton or squash, looked eager and hungry to win. And their hunger was not for just a name in the medal tally but for the ultimate prize – the Gold.
That is why when Soniya Chanu the silver medal winner in women’s 48 kg weight lifting category and the first Indian to begin India’s medal tally was congratulated for her feat, she cried. Not in celebration but in distinct grief for not winning the Gold. She even tearfully apologised for failing to live up to expectations. The men weightlifters too Sukhen Dey and V S Rao who bagged the silver and bronze looked distraught when they lost the Gold to Malaysia. It surely created a flutter in the games village. The new face of Indian Sports made of those who were not bowing down so easily this time around.
Day 2 brought good news from all corners of Delhi. A hatrick of Gold in Wrestling and a double gold in Shooting. Abhinav Bindra the golden boy of India was quoted as saying he was scared because he knew so many Indians expected so much from him. It is a known fact that repeating a successful haul is usually tougher than the first success and therefore the pressure this man took before his event was immense. At the end of the day though, he triumphed, winning individual gold and also team gold paired with world champion Gagan Narang another shooting star of India.
To conquer the inner battle and win the ultimate is what these cool and calm shooters taught everyone who was watching. And the look of pride and newfound joy that the two displayed on the podium while receiving their medals and singing with the tune of the Indian National Anthem, only added to the character of the men.
Another display of solid character was when Akhil Kumar the man who won the wrestling Gold for India remained a pillar of patience and strength in spite of continuous provocation from his Australian opponent during the final match. In the end, he won the battle of grits and proved that physical strength might make a good wrestler but it was mental strength that ultimately made the winner.
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi played their first round doubles game against a Sri Lankan team. These two have won 23 Grand Slams between them, but if you saw them play on the court, you would agree that there was not even a hint of egoism in their play. They do win billions in international events, but this win seemed more crucial, more close to the heart even if it was just a first round match and even if it was against two non- descript players.
What Leander Paes also showed in midst of the match was his considerate heart. While the venue was buzzing with flying insects of all kinds, he carefully lifted one of the moths from the court and placed it safely on the boundary hedges so as to not trample it by chance.
Gold is where the heart is for India during the Commonwealth games 2010. And Gold is definitely what Indians want the most from these sports stars.
But in just two days the men and women forming the biggest Indian contingents in a sporting event ever have proved that they are already in the winner’s circle and do have what it takes to win. The confidence, the panache, the skill, the determination, the passion and the overdrive. Not to forget the golden heart that displays its glitter here and there through a tear for winning silver, a halted punch and a moment’s pause to save the life of a moth.