We did it! Three medals, including one gold at the Beijing Olympics. That’s a lot more than we have had in a while and a good deal greater than what we had come to expect. India’s hauls of medals, modest as it is in the overall rankings, is very significant indeed. It offers a glimmer of hope to athletes all over the country who do not happen to be cricketers.
The question is how will India treat her Olympian heroes? Will they come home to the laurels they deserve? Will their success bring about a significant improvement in their personal conditions? Will all, except the Narottam Puris among us, forget their names in a few months’ time? Will they inspire our children to take up sports? Will they instil faith in the prospects of sporting careers among parents who steer talented kids away from sport and toward academic careers they have no talent for or interest in? Will we now see more investment in public sporting infrastructure? Will our stadia and gymnasia now be crammed with sweaty youngsters at play instead of bedecked people attending the parties and events that these places are mostly let out for? Will we see committed sportspersons and coaches manage our sports nationally, or will corrupt political appointees continue to rule the roost? Will these heroes have to sell us shampoo on TV for a living? Will we be weaned away from our obsession with cricket? Will our parents take a day off work to watch our children play a hockey or football match? Will we recognise and develop the potential champion swimmers, rowers, archers, weight-lifters and martial artists who go about their daily lives as fisher folk, boatmen, tribal hunters, dock loaders and Kalari practitioners?
Questions, questions, questions. Methinks me asks too many questions. Let the morrow answer them. For now, let’s raise a cheer for Abhinav Bindra, Sushil Kumar and Vijender Kumar. Jai ho, jawaanon!