A Thought Leader – Football is Life



After the Euro 2016, the Olympics is the biggest sporting spectacle in 2016 which will keep us all busy for 16 days starting from 5th August. The world’s attention is on Rio, and already there are many stories to keep us involved in the Games. London Record Broken in Rio!  In 2012, the Indian Olympic Association sent the largest delegation in our country’s Olympic history. A total of 83 athletes, 60 men and 23 women, competed in 13 sports. This was India’s most successful Olympics in terms of total medal tally, having won a total of 6 medals ( 2 silver and 4 bronze) doubling the nation’s previous record of 3 medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Men’s field Hockey was the only team-based sport in which India had representation in these Olympic Games. India also marked its Olympic return in weightlifting, after the International Weight Lifting Federation imposed a two-year suspension for the nation’s athletes in Beijing because of a doping scandal.  India also set a historical milestone as two female athletes won Olympic medals. Former World No.1 Saina Nehwal became the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic bronze medal in the women’s singles badminton and woman boxer MC Mary Kom also won a bronze. In 2016, India again went into the Rio Olympics with the largest contingent breaking its previous record.

Could this mean a proportional rise in number of medals compared to 2012?   

Back in the 2012 London Olympics India won 6 medals and for the second-highest populated country in the world, this was a record haul of medals. Considering 6 medals in London there is an expectation from the fastest growing large economies of the world to show their athletic prowess as well. The question is whether India can break the London Games record. If one goes for a detailed athlete-by-athlete analysis, then it doesn’t provide great optimism that India will cross the London mark. THE EXPECTATION IN RIO  

The women’s Hockey team qualifying for Rio was one of the proudest moments for our National game

  NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 24 : Indian players celebrate after beating Russia by 1-0 during their FIH Hockey World League Round 2 (women) match at National stadium in New Delhi on Sunday. (Photo by Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images)After a long time, the Indian Men’s Hockey team is seen as a medal contender after its performance in the recently held Champions Trophy. If Hockey can win us a medal in Rio then the sport could really strike the jackpot in every sense. The game could capture the attention back in India and that could also result in huge commercial success for World Hockey. After all, the International Hockey Federation has a huge focus on India and Indian Hockey. Medal winners are surely going to be from Shooting and other games where India is likely to add to its medal tally would be from Archery, Wrestling, Badminton, and Tennis. Our Boxers too might come back with a medal. The boxers might just get inspired by the exploits of 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh who was recently crowned WBO Asia Pacific champion.  

Dipa Karmakar, the gymnast has made history as the first woman to qualify for games, and hers is truly an inspiring story

   The number of female athletes who have qualified for Rio 2016 is significantly higher compared to London 2012. The Indian government has invested hugely through the TOPS scheme in the preparation of athletes over the last two years and there are other private entities who have also made a huge contribution in developing many Rio-bound athletes, like OGQ, Anglian Medal Hunt, and JSW. India with 1.25 billion will stand behind these athletes and it would be a proud moment for India whenever the Indian national anthem is played during the Games. It is encouraging for Indian sports to see a larger number of athletes qualifying for the Rio Olympics and during the course of qualification, many of the athletes have achieved their best results and broken national records. It is unfortunate that Neeraj Chopra missed the Olympics qualification by a few weeks and his best performance came a little late when he won the U20 World Athletic Championship gold medal in Javelin with the 86.48m World Record performance. However, Neeraj looks like a definite medal winner in future Olympics and I am sure he will get the best support for his training and development from now onwards so that he can focus on the 2020 Olympics.  

Doping scandals before the Olympics was not a very encouraging situation but one can hope that there won’t be any addition to this list of doping offenders during the Games

  Indian sports are at a crossroads and if India’s achievements at Rio are going to be highly encouraging then it would be a game changer for Indian sports. Indian sports do lack structural support and encouragement and if anything can change structurally then India can move to the list of elite sporting nations by 2028. Let’s back our athletes wholeheartedly, our athletes need all the encouragement, support, and prayers to give their best. Whether medal or no medal it shouldn’t matter, if our athletes can give their best in the biggest sporting arena then we have moved on to the next level.   India wishes all these athletes the best of luck and I am sure each of the participating athletes will give their best          

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