My Olympic Journey Through Words And Pictures

So many emotions…….

If you are an Indian, chances are, you have, at some point or the other during these Olympics, shuttled between extreme despair and extreme enthusiasm. If not, then you have certainly, at least been angry about everything around you, irrespective of its association with this prestigious tournament. Government, sporting bodies, journalists, lack of a sporting culture, corruption, sports minister, news channels, sports channels, sportspeople themselves, game schedules, your next door neighbour, Syria, Assam floods, Nepal earthquake, Donald Trump…well, you get the point? Let’s focus on the topic at hand before drifting into nonsense. The last 20 days have been emotional. And they have taken a toll on all of us.

First, the sports minister couldn’t get a spelling right and we were just crashing out of everything else

Things were quick to go from bad to worse (on social media too) as one by one all of our promising sportspersons were knocked out.

The tweet that started it all…..

And making fun of them on social media was not acceptable at all as one so-called columnist/perpetual hate-monger realized (but not before she was pegged down a notch or two by every one with/without a social media account).

Meanwhile, the world around was all rosy for the top sportspersons. OK, not all. It was crushing to watch Novak Djokovic bow out in the first round. And the Williams sisters couldn’t hold their end either.

So much was happening. Michael “one of my esteemed not-so-secret crushes” Phelps retired on a high. And, as this Olympics proved repeatedly, inspired a whole new generation of super-swimmers (read Katie Ledecky, Joseph Schooling). Plus he now has a total of 23 effing Gold medals! 23! That’s officially more than Bappi Lahiri.

What finally (managed) to win Indian hearts was Dipa Karmakar’s insanely awesomlicious show in the women’s vault. A momentous occasion, where the forever Indian skeptics and the forever Indian optimists finally agreed on one point — This girl is sensational. She came fourth, she won hearts, you are my hero, I respect you, save girl child, proud to be Indian…la la la la la

Not too forget the tinier than tiny but mightier than mighty Simone Biles, who won four golds for USA and four billion hearts. Basically, they all were just so good at winning hearts.

I also don’t have words to describe one tall lanky gentleman from Jamaica, who sprints at the speed of light (not literally). His (yet another) ‘blink-and-miss’ performance swept everyone off their feet (almost literally). And that guy even found time to look at the camera and smile. Jesus.

One of India’s shining moments came from a completely non-Indian source when a pair of Mexican swimmers danced to the tunes of a Bollywood song in synchronized swimming. An Akshay Kumar song, no less. Imagine if it was a Salman Khan song…..Bhai fans would have demanded an honorary medal for that alone.

An interesting incident sparked the ‘spirit of Olympics’ debate on social media when a New Zealand and an American runner limped to the finish line after falling together in the 5000m heat. Clearly this heartless, emotionless, ruthless world is not used to such selfless display of sports(wo)manship.

Usually we are used to people pushing us to get ahead….

OK. Back to India now…..Srikanth Kidambi almost gave us hope. He put up a tough fight against the shrewd Lin Dan after a miserable first game. He didn’t proceed to the next round but yes, he won hearts too.

The coach with the golden touch

Eventually though in the classic ‘Bhagwan ke ghar mein der hai, andher nahi’ melodramatic fashion, 15 days into the tournament, India (finally…yay!) won its first medal. Kudos to Sakshi Malik for that!

Then it was 21-year old PV Sindhu’s turn to make a mark. Another graduate of the Sri Sri Sri Pullela Gopichand’s fantastic school of awesome coaching.

All in all, the Olympics this year for India were (at core) like all other Olympics — a healthy mix of frustration, disappointment, inspiration, and happiness. It was the Indian women who shone and kicked some serious arse in the tournament and back home as well. Though will that make any difference to the plight of women in India….remains a tough question.

One of India’s most embarrassing moments in the tournament came in form of Narsingh Yadav, who was banned from competing because of a doping scandal. People!!! Stop putting so much pressure on our contenders….I am convinced his only fault was not hearing his directive properly. Duh…

The plan for the next few weeks is simple. People at every level will be brainstorming and formulating plans to get India better for the next Olympics. Speaking of dope, one of my friends ‘ingenious’ idea is to concentrate on manufacturing world-class dope instead of world-class athletes. He guarantees it will even make a gymnast out of me (I definitely have the height for it — #fivefeetandproud).

As for me, well, I and my best friend have decided to travel for the 2020 Olympics. And four years later, you’ll be reading a similar (but perhaps more refined) picture blog straight from Tokyo. And i̶f̶ when you do, you can tell the person sitting next to you — ‘Hey I think I know her. She showed a lot of promise four years ago!’