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Lofty aims, paltry efforts

Lofty aims, paltry efforts
Highlights

The countdown to the Rio De Janeiro Olympics, which gets underway on August 5, has begun with the traditional lighting of the Olympic torch at Olympia. This is the last wake-up call to all sportspersons eyeing sporting glory or even immortality. 

The countdown to the Rio De Janeiro Olympics, which gets underway on August 5, has begun with the traditional lighting of the Olympic torch at Olympia. This is the last wake-up call to all sportspersons eyeing sporting glory or even immortality.

However, closer home, one gets a picture that is gloomy because neither the government agencies nor the athletes are showing signs of having geared up for the greatest sports spectacle on the earth. A look at the state-of-affairs makes for a laughable read because there is no one around who can be expected to achieve a golden podium finish.

It is pretty tragic that in almost 92 years of participation, India still boasts of one individual gold that has come courtesy of Abhinav Bindra. There is a sense of remorse even in the hearts of the eternal optimists for the simple reason that Indians have been falling short of expectations in the intervening four years.

The country has been so starved of champions that there is a nationwide celebration even if one qualifies for the summer Games. This was evident when Indian men and women hockey teams made the cut. In a world where excellence is the order of the day, mere participation is for those athletes who lack the spirit, will and wherewithal to overcome challenges and conquer the world.

This absence of killer-instinct is where India has to change if there has to be any meaningful headway on the world stage. What is even more ridiculous is the way the government of the day is making a mockery of sports. There is no room for doubt that Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme is the joke of the decade.

The intention is perhaps good but one doubts the sincerity of its implementation. Described as a scientifically evolved structure under National Sports Development Fund (NSDF), it was aimed at identifying and supporting potential medal prospects at Rio Olympics and the next one.

A look at its progress since 2014 when it was formulated adds to the sham. Most high-profile achievers, including Abhinav Bindra, have quit citing one reason or the other. It is surprising that for all the meticulous planning and talent spotting, it took a herculean effort by 24-year-old Tripura girl Dipa Karmarkar to get a grant of Rs 30 lakh under TOP scheme.

Nothing can be more disgusting considering that those into elite sports like Saina and Sania, who make big money, as it is, are doled out millions while medal hopefuls from lesser known disciplines run from pillar to post to get at least a sponsor or two.

Sports lovers will grimace and feel sorry for the fraternity if they look deeper into the latest gimmick. The Centre has constituted a committee that will send a team during the Games on a special mission-marketing ‘Make in India’ initiative! The only sensible suggestion is that the government is to showcase kabaddi as an Olympic sport. By the time the government wakes up to the ground realities, the Rio would have been done and over with.

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