For many of us who are following Olympics, Abhinav Bindra’s loss by a margin of 0.5 in the playoff of the shootout event was agonisingly painful but perhaps what was even more was Social commentator Shobha De’s tweet, “Goal of Team India at the Olympics: Rio jao. Selfies lo. Khaali haat wapas aao. What a waste of money and opportunity.” Not only were these comments in bad taste but were also reflective of the extreme ignorance of our so called socialites on the biggest sporting event of the world.
It is heartening to see the like of Bindra, Rasquinha and many other sporting greats along with other celebrities come out in support and lash out at Madam De. Perhaps the sheer insensitivity of De’s comment is best portrayed in Bindra’s response where he asked her to be “proud of the Indian athletes “perusing human excellence against the whole world”. I totally agree to what Rasquinha suggested not just for De but many others who sitting in the air conditioned comfort of their living room choose to rubbish Team India’s endeavour and asked them “to consider switching roles and run on the hockey pitch for 60 minutes or hold rifles like the shooters do to get an idea.”
Indeed the lack of sporting culture in our country is not just shocking but perhaps it has reached a point where we need some serious introspection. Most of our most eminent sportspersons deal with infrastructural challenges and resource crunch even at the pinnacle of their achievement.
I think India’s biggest achievement in the Rio Olympics would be back home rather than on the actual grounds. The fact that these sportspersons finally got a pay parity with the pen wielding bureaucrats, the fact that their basic needs like comfort f home food, sufficient acclimatising time and resource mobilisation to address their sporting needs well lays the foundation for a better sporting culture in the country.
For generations now talent had to blatantly compete with money and corruption to get its right recognition. So many gifted sportsperson have disappeared into oblivion for lack of support or reduced to resorting to menial jobs for lack of funds.
Well perhaps it is time that we learnt to be proud of ourselves and countrymen and celebrate our Indian-ness. The fact that the India contingent has reached Rio speaks of their level of competence globally and instead of putting down their morale with thoughtless comments, it is that time when we need to boost their morale and create a foundation to help them achieve the next level back home.
Sporting greats do not happen by fluke. If a Sachin Tendulkar was born with prodigal talent, he also received on ground mentoring and resource support to let his talent blossom and we need to work towards doing the same for every member of our country who dreamed of letting the Indian Tricolour fly high at the biggest sporting congregation globally.