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Fast and Furious: Indian Women Athletes

When India cannot win medals in shooting, the hope to get a decent medal tally instantly diminishes. That is what happened in the recently concluded Asian Games 2010 in China. But while Indian shooting stars did not shine as well as they do at all multi event international competitions, the supposedly ugly ducklings who seemed to have transformed into the beautiful swans were the athletes, especially women athletes representing the country. In fact India would have never finished 6th on the culmination of the event if not for the golden girls like Preeja and Ashwini Akkunji who clearly set the standards for others to follow in the future.

After the first week of the event, things looked dismal for India. It had just 2 gold medals in its kitty thanks to Ronjan Sodhi the shooter and Pankaj Adwani the snooker champion. Even a country like Singapore was way ahead. While it wasn’t a hugely shocking result tally as India was always known  to be a non threatening participant, it did bring the thought to one’s mind that the recent commonwealth success was just matter of good luck.

Then came the 10,000m race with the beginning of track and field events on 21st November. Two Indian girls, Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut vere prominently visible in their blue outfits in the first bunch of girls completing the laps. As the last lap began, so did rise the hope in every Indians heart. It did look like things were set to improve for the nation and it finally did as Preeja and Kavita finished a commendable first and second and even had the energy to perform a victory lap, smiling and taking in the glory that came with such a feat.

As event after event unfolded the smiles on Indian faces broadened. It was not luck by chance, but sweet rewards of hard work and perseverance. Ashwini Akkunji began the 400m hurdle in style and finished in style, winning gold with other athletes far away from her reach. The women 4 x 400m relay was also not a chance escape but a diligently thought out plan that gave results.

If the previous absence of gold medals did not really surprise many Indians, the presence of them in such quantity and coming from track and field events certainly did. No one thought it could be done except perhaps the athletes themselves. It was perhaps also easier for them to win on the tracks because all of them come from family backgrounds where the battle for daily bread is a constant affair.

Preeja’s father died when she was very young and her mother worked at neighbor’s homes to make ends meet. Kavita lives in the adivasi belt near Nasik, the only sister of four brothers. She chose to be an athlete because it could be done barefooted.

Sadly, it is only after these women have proven their worth, that we wish to know more about them and elevate their financial status. If India has the second highest population in the world, surely we have sports potential too equal or just second to China. But while the Chinese take sports as seriously as their manufacturing capabilities or their intellectual achievements, in India every success is hailed after it is achieved.

Isn’t it time that talents are nurtured earlier and recognitions, financial benefits offered before athletes make their mark? Like the seedling that needs a proper environment to grow and finally bear fruits, these athletes too can repeatedly make bigger contributions if their potential recognized right in time. To scoot for diamonds in the coal mine is really the need of the hour if Indian really wants to be known for its sports proficiency too.

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7 Responses

  1. sports is a field which requires the involvement of many branches of science , technology, health and commerce. I say the change has to always begin at the grass root level. Youth , who are the back bone of the nation have to take up the challenge of building a strong foundation. They should take their respective fields seriously and begin to look for ways to give back to the filed in their own ways. If that becomes a reality, reaching the top slot of Olympics tally will be a cake walk for India because, we are a nation that’s blessed with the best potential candidates in every sports but cursed by the demons of corruptions and poverty.

    • I am a physiotherapy under graduate student who is passing out of college this December. I belong to the sports and fitness industry as much as I belong to any other field of Medicine. But such is the state of education( in true sense) that more than 80% of the students from my passing out batch are still in a confusion of what to do after we pass out. Health which is one of the most important sectors for a well functioning society is at this level of education. What will the youth prepare themselves to make a difference?
      Only two things can happen.
      1. Self realization of their potential by youth leading to productive outcomes .
      2. Enforced laws which will get them involved with the society at a grass root level in a disciplined and sustained manner.

      • Atula, I am so happy to see you pick up such thought provoking articles to write. Congratulations on constantly delivering such well scripted articles.
        Sorry for keeping my comments too elaborate. :) Your writings force me to write back in detail time and again. Thanks for being with IndianBlogger. Your truly an asset!

      • Padmini when I passed out of college I was in the same dilemna. It is because the education system teaches us the theoritical part well but not the practical application of our knowledge. Self realisation is the only thing that decides the course of action we take later in life. I am sure you and your classmates will find your place in the sun and shine. my best wishes. Also thanks for the appreciation.

    • Padmini I think sports men in India have really always shined because of their individual aspiration and self motivation. And therefore the beginning has always been at the grass root level for anyone. because of the state of the affairs in our country no sports person has got it easy. But you are right. Branches of science, tech, commerce etc. too have to initiate the involvement because it is the unified effort that can reap rewards…faster and with surity.

  2. Except cricket, no sports activities are encouraged in India, by the top industrial houses and the government. Those who won the medals, have done it by training with their own resources, mostly. I know about a boy who excels in gymnasium, training early in the morning in a municipal garden in slum area. He belongs to a poor family; what nutritious food can he afford?

    • Exactly my point Chandrakant Ji. When I was representing my state in the basketball nationals, inspite of the dates for the tournament announced 6 months ahead, our tickets were not reserved because of apparant lack of funds. We had to ultimately sit near the bathrooms for the two day journey back and forth.