Why India doesn’t win more Olympic Medals?

That’s the question every Indian has every 4 years once.

With another Olympics coming to an end — for an average Indian — it’s about time to stop worrying about our medal tally and check the schedules of upcoming series, obviously Cricket! After all, Tokyo 2020 is 4 years away and what will we do until then?

Our previous Olympic campaigns at Beijing and London have taught me on what to expect at Rio. It’s a repeating story!

Well, I’m not even remotely taking a dig at our Olympians here, Definitely not! I think i simply don’t qualify to judge them and in my opinion,

If someone has qualified for Olympics, they deserve the respect and awe. They qualify because they are the best in the country, they have beaten all odds and they have put years of dedication and sacrifice to be there at that level. They are our pride, heroes & flag bearers.

With all that in context, our Olympic campaigns have been a repeat of the same story! Of course, we finished London 2012 on a high note with 6 medals, highest in Indian Olympic history. But, my expectation for Rio 2016 was simple.

We will definitely win medals, but it will be very less in number.

After all, since 1900 we ended up with zero medals only 6 times and not even once in the last 5 campaigns. So, one thing was assured. We will not turn up empty-handed like some nobody tweeted.

But, Why can’t we win medals like our frenemy— China? or like Sweden? Sweden has roughly 10 million people(that’s roughly Bangalore’s population!) and it has sent more athletes and won 11 medals so far. That’s more of a comparable example, i believe. We have definitely better human resources than Sweden so we should be competing with China. Why not?

Unlike GDP, economy and inflation, Olympic medal tally is a reality check, in black and white!
If your system is flawed, corrupted or ill-equipped, it will show up there. No manipulations possible! It’s a no-brainer!

So, unless we address the obvious problems in the system, we can never send athletes like China does, let alone winning medals.

#1:Power in the wrong hands

Politicians and Business tycoons should not hold high positions in Sports associations and Olympic committees. Check out the names of Presidents of Indian Olympic Committee,Badminton Association of India, Indian Weightlifting Federation. You will see one common factor — either they are MPs or MLAs or some business tycoon.

From BCCI, ICC to Squash federations, the whole system and its hierarchy is filled with them or their kith and kin. Not to mention the bias, politics and money involved right from the selection process. We know that they are the biggest nightmares to Indian sports.

Unless those unrelated to sports step aside and let sports personnel to do their business, Talented athletes are going to have a tough time ascending to the highest level. There is no dearth of talent in this country.

#2: Funding & Infrastructure

Assume that the Government is genuinely concerned about developing every sport and they provide proper funding. Will all that money be spent for the intended purpose? We know what happened in Commonwealth games. Period.

#3: Rewards & Recognition

When an athlete wins medal, all Government and Private bodies compete alike in giving out prize money and rewards. Well. They do deserve it. But, What happens to the coach or the academy that backed the athlete the whole time?

PV Sindhu gets a few crores as rewards whereas Gopichand has got 10 lakhs prize money(at the time of writing this). Do we know that it takes roughly 1.8 crores INR per year for Gopichand to run the academy? At least Gopichand is a well known face and has managed well in the past.

Think of Dipa Karmakar’s or Sakshi Malik’s coach. Untold are their stories of misery. Like the athletes, They too fight through the odds to find, train and nurture talent. Encouraging and rewarding them will only do good to the future of the sport.

#4: Lack of Public Awareness

Even if all the above are streamlined, this one is still a big problem.

Let us not be blind by just blaming the authorities and the government. We can’t even name 10 out of the 120 odd Olympians we sent, can we?

We celebrate only the medal winners. Except for Dipa Karmakar or Lalita Babar, do we even know the names of other 4th place finishers. Indeed, they were just a few points short of a Bronze medal. Why don’t we know them? We are just interested knowing whom Virat Kohli is dating.

We sent the largest ever contingent this year. Great! But, if you credit the Government for this, then you don’t know about Olympic Gold Quest, a non-profit organisation that supports Indian athletes in 6 to 8 disciplines well before London 2012 Olympics.

4 out of the 6 Indian medalists in London 2012 were supported by OGQ. Do we even know that?

Start naming a few Olympic events that Indians competed. There is a fair chance that you will remember only those supported by OGQ. Because, almost all of the famous names in Rio Olympics have been supported by OGQ.

So, follow other sports, connect with a few athletes. Everyone has a FB page or a twitter handle. Follow their journey to next Olympics. Support them and encourage them, they need it more than any other celebrity does.

What to expect in Tokyo 2020?

Can we expect India to threaten China’s medal chances? Yes, in a few events. No, as a whole.

Will we win 20, 25 medals including few Gold medals? Highly unlikely, but definitely possible.

We would definitely win medals in Tokyo, may be more than ever. Credits will be to individual coaches, academies and NPOs like OGQ.
We will celebrate and thank them for serving above and beyond their call of duty.
And still it will be a repeat of the same story!
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