Wednesday, July 18, 2012

India's Olympic Dreams - London 2012

2012 London Olympics - Official Logo (Clean)
Image Courtesy: Google Images

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games is scheduled to take place in London, United Kingdom, from 27th July to 12th August, 2012. The Government of India has reportedly spent over Rs. 250 crores in preparation for the games, which also includes Rs. 20 crores on foreign coaches for various events, so says Wiki. Has the money which was supposed to be spent for the games has really been spent in the development, infrastructure and training facilities or has most of it gone down the drain? In other words, has most of the money which was supposed to be spent to develop and prepare our athletes to win medals at the Olympics, gone down a corrupt Official or a Politician’s dirty pockets? Whatever the case maybe, I have decided not to dwell much upon any controversies or corruption surrounding the games in this post. I will just concentrate on the athletes who will be our best medal hopes in the forthcoming games.

One good thing about this Olympics I have been hearing in the news is the number of Officials who will be accompanying the athletes to the games, the number of Government Sponsored Officials this time would be only 10 as compared to 166 in the Beijing Olympics. That is definitely a welcome change, now at least we can be assured that this Olympics will not end up being a paid holiday for Politicians and their relatives or anyone associated with the Sports Ministry in any way from the hard-earned tax payers money. The efforts of the IOA and the Sports Ministry are to be appreciated in this regard.

This will be India’s strongest and the largest Olympic Contingent comprising of 81 athletes in 13 different disciplines, there will be 54 Support Staff which includes Doctors, Physiotherapists and Coaches, 7 Contingent Officials, 12 Sports Federation Officials (one from each discipline in which India has qualified) and only 10 Govt. Sponsored Officials which comes to a total of 164 personnel.

As a kid watching the 1996 Atlanta Games, I used to feel very disappointed seeing the medals tally every morning in the newspapers. I used to get up eagerly to see India’s name in the medals tally but would only end up seeing the medals tally of US, China and other European nations grow. We did win a solitary Bronze Medal and Leander Paes became a National Hero. We managed to win a Bronze and a Silver Medal in subsequent Olympics but still the precious Gold Medal was missing from our kitty in an individual event. That void was finally fulfilled when three sporting heroes changed the face of Indian sporting history in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. By winning the gold in the 10 m Air Rifle event, Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win the individual Gold Medal at the Olympics. Vijender Singh became the first Indian Boxer to win a medal at the Olympics when he won a Bronze Medal in the 2008 Games. And Sushil Kumar won a Bronze Medal in the Men’s 66Kg Freestyle Wrestling Event; this was only the second time an Indian Wrestler has won a medal at the Olympics, first since K D Jadhav won the Bronze in the 1952 Helsinki Games.

The three Olympic heroes from the Beijing Games have made the cut in the London Games too, and we can definitely hope they would repeat or even better their performances (Vijender and Sushil can aim higher and go for gold) in this Olympics. Expectations are sky-high for India to win a record number of medals in this 30th Edition of the games. We can definitely hope to win medals in many disciplines including Archery, Shooting, Boxing, Badminton, Wrestling and even Tennis. Despite all the controversies and the ugly selection row, we can still hope for a medal in Tennis, both in Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Indian Hockey team would be making a comeback to the Olympics after missing the cut for the first time in history in the Beijing Games. Will the Hockey Team be able to leave a mark? Although the medal prospects for the Hockey Team is very slim, (well, its almost impossible) but if they spring a surprise or two and manage to get at least a bronze medal then it would be considered a great achievement.

Women’s Boxing will also make its debut at the London Games and who better than the five-time successive World Boxing Champion, Mary Kom, who will be the sole representative from India. She will be one of the brightest prospects to win a medal for us in this Olympics.

One of my most favorite athletes, the one with an infectious smile, Deepika Kumari representing the Women’s Archery Team in both Individual and Team Events will be a great medal prospect. She is currently the World No. 1 in Women’s Recurve Archery.

Saina Nehwal is again one of the most promising medal hopes for us in Badminton. Having won two back-to-back titles in the run up to the Olympics, she will be supremely confident and will be at her prime form and we can surely count on her to win an individual Gold Medal.

Compared to the previous editions of the Olympics, this edition will be our best bet to win lots of medals, the final medals tally may even touch double digits for the very first time.