His Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India on the eve of the India’s 66th Independence Day speech said that “I congratulate all who have done their nation proud at the recently concluded games (London Olympics), by winning as well as participating. The number of trophies may not be too large but it is a remarkable improvement upon the last count, four years later, when I hope to address you again, I am sure, we will celebrate a medal spring”. Winning a medal in Olympics is also about the pride, patriotism and belief of the nation and finishing at 55 in London Olympics doesn’t reflect the size and ambition of this country. Can we do something to have medals spring in Rio 2016 as per our President wishes within the scope of National Sports Policy 2001?
1.1. India in Olympics:
In Olympics, winning a gold medal or bronze or silver does not matter but the most important thing is first of all to qualify and participate. However, the happiness and pride of India depends upon the number of medals won by our athletes. Indian hockey team dominated the Olympics till 1980 Moscow Olympics. First individual to win medal was Shri Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav in 1952 Helsinki , won bronze in wrestling. Leander Paes won bronze medal in 1996 Atlanta Olympics in Tennis. Karnam Malleswari won bronze in 2000 Sydney Olympics in weightlifting. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won silver medal in 2004 Athen in shooting. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, India won three Olympic medals in three different sports and also winning first individual Olympic gold medal by Abhinav Bindra in the 10 m Air Rifle event, and also bronze by Vijender Singh in boxing and bronze by Sushil kumar in wrestling.
1.2. India in London 2012 Olympics:
In 2012 London Olympics, India saw an 83 members Indian contingent, participating in 13 disciplines and 55 events. India has won 6 medals including 2 silver and 4 bronze which is by far the best performance by India in terms of number of medals won at any single Olympic games. In addition to those won medals for the country, there are many athletes in London 2012 who could not make it to podium also performed very well. Three of our players in track and field events reached the finals. Kashyap was the first person to be in the quarter finals for men’s badminton. A large number of our boxers went upto the quarter finals.
Is lack of confidence of our athletes cost us medals?
Is lack of finishing technique of our athletes cost us medals?
Is lack of mat/Ring management (Say boxing, wrestling) cost us medals?
Is lack of discipline or ego between players (say tennis) cost us medals?
Is lack of influence of our National Sports Federation on international body cost us medals?
Is lack of Indian international referee in our discipline cost us medals?
Answer for all questions are either yes or may be, there can’t be a answer ‘No’ for these questions.
The glory of nation, international standard of a nation and pride of a nation in the minds of the people also depends upon the number medals won in this type of competition. Can we increase our medals by four times in Rio 2016?
To develop elite medal winning sports star in the international games like Olympics, Asian games and Commonwealth games in the performing disciplines in which India has potential strength and natural advantage.
To increase our medal tally by four times, as we increased our medal tally by two times in London 2012 when compared to Beijing 2008.
2.2. Performing Sports Vs Mass Sports:
Every country in the world has some natural advantage in some sector or other depending upon climate, culture, location in the world map, tradition, etc. It is true for sports also. India’s National Sports Policy 2001 says “Sports activities, in which the country has potential strength and competitive advantage, need to be vigorously promoted”. Time has come to classify sports in India into performing sports and mass sports. Performing sports are sports in which India is having potential strength and competitive advantage to win medals in competitions like Olympics, CWG, Asian games, etc. Mass sports are sports which are traditional sports of our culture and also other national and international sports which provide beneficial recreation, improve productivity, and foster social harmony and discipline. This classification should be on the basis of objective criteria.
When we study the medals obtained by top 10 successful nations in London 2012 Olympics, they got 32.18 % to 64.47 % of medals from just three discipline, they are not dominating in all events. In case of USA, for example, just two discipline- athletics and swimming- accounts for 60 of the 104 medals of its athletes won. The table below shows the domination of three disciplines in top ten countries:
When we study the Indian contingents of 83 athletes in London 2012 Olympics, these 83 athletes are from just 13 disciplines, even though there are 36 disciplines in Olympics. These disciplines are: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Field Hockey, Judo, Rowing, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Weightlifting and Wrestling. When we study the India’s medals in Olympics so far, it is clear that India got medals in only seven disciplines. They are: Hockey, Wrestling, Tennis, Weightlifting, shooting, Boxing and Badminton.
India being heterogeneous country and taking into consideration of other factors like political issues, regional issues, we can conclude that India is having natural advantage and more potential strength in Wrestling, Shooting, Boxing, Badminton and Archery and they can be classified as Performing Sports- Group A. Athletics, Hockey, Judo, Rowing, swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis and Weightlifting are having little lesser natural advantage and potential when compared to Performing Sports- Group A. They can be classified as Performing Sports- Group B. All other disciplines have to prove, whether they are having international players.
Wrestling is not only recognized as one of the world’s oldest sports but also one of the oldest sports in India. As per our Indian tradition, Lord Hanumannji is considered as greatest wrestler of all times and Hanumannji is prayed before wrestling games. Wrestling gave more medals to India in Olympics than any other individual sports in the country along with shooting. Wrestling gave first individual medals to the country in Olympics. The following table shows the performance of Indian wrestlers in Olympics:
K D Jadhav
Indian wrestlers won large number of medals in CWG, Asian games and many other international championship. India’s wrestling mass base is very large and it is being played in large part of the country and akharas are functioning in many parts of the country. From this large mass base, we can select best talent and with whole hearted support of all stake holders, India can produce more medal winning wrestler in international games like Olympics.
2.4. Developing Medal Winning Wrestlers:
A war is fought by soldiers but war is won not by soldiers alone. For a solider to won a war, he needs good training, equipments and infrastructure and a good General. For a athlete to won a medal in Olympics, an international standard athlete alone is not enough, an athlete needs international standard coaching/training, international standard academy, international standard coaches, referees, other supporting staffs, internationally influential national sports federation and support from the government and corporate sponsors. All round cooperation and development of all these stake holders are necessary to produce medal winning wrestlers in the country.
2.4.1. National Wrestling Academy:
How long can we dependent upon foreign countries for training to a medal winning discipline like wrestling? We have to develop National wrestling academy by upgrading existing infrastructure like SAI Northern Center, Sonepat, Patiala. We have to send a small team to Colardo Spring (USA), or Belarus or other reputed wrestling academy in the world to study and to upgrade our infrastructure. Foreign component of training of our probables/elite wrestlers under OPEX London 2012 helped a lot. However, we can’t be continue to depend on foreign academy and need for international standard national academy felt for the following reasons:
Some times when Indian wrestling team visits abroad for training, the team gets accommodation in a local clubs and competes with the local wrestler only and is not given any opportunity for competing with national team of the host country. By having a national wrestling academy, we can attract national players of other countries and we can give real international level competition training to our probables/elite wrestlers.
Having an international standard wrestling academy helps in networking between coaches, referees and wrestlers in the international level. One point has to be kept in mind that referees/juries play an important role in medal winning in all power games like wrestling, boxing, etc.
National wrestling academy can help in developing the Indian coaches, referees from states and also from important akharas of the country. This will in turn produce more wrestlers.
Till the development of international standard facility in India, the present method of foreign exposure/training should be continued as it is in OPEX London 2012. This foreign exposure/training should be given to all probables/elite wrestlers before all important international games like Asian games, CWG, etc.
2.4.2. Indian International Coaches/Referees:
India can’t attain a place in top 10 list of medal tally in Olympics unless we develop Indian international standard coaches/referees in all performing sports like wrestling, boxing, shooting, etc. Coaches/referees of any discipline are an important stake holder in the development of medal winning athletes. Schemes and programmes should be devised to develop strong contingent of international standard coaches and referees for performing sports in the country. Promising Indian coaches and referees should be trained aboard. Importance of referees can’t be under mind in power games like wrestling, boxing and their networking with other international referees.
Every well meaning sportsperson can understand the controversies created by referees in the boxing bouts of Indian players in London 2012. This can be easily avoided if India has international referees/juries in the Olympics. India might have attained the stated target of 8-10 medals in London Olympics as mentioned in OPEX London 2012 if there were no controversies in boxing.
Boxing Controversies in London Olympics
Boxer Sumit Sangwan, lost a closely contested bout 14–15 against Yamaguchi Falcao Florentino of Brazil in the light heavyweight category - Round of 32. The ESPN commentators described the loss as "daylight robbery.” India's Chef-de-mission, on the insistence of Sports Minister Ajay Maken, lodged an unsuccessful appeal against the judges' decision believing he had won.
A win by Vikas Krishan in the welterweight pre-quarters was overturned after an appeal by the opponent Errol Spence. The Indian was given four penalty points and the score was changed from 11–13 to 15–13 in favour of Errol Spence. The decision was overturned citing the nine holding fouls committed by the Indian boxer in the third round and for spitting out the gumshield intentionally. As the jury's decision was final, no further appeal by the Indians was permitted. India approached the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but the appeal was rejected.
Boxer Manoj Kumar lost his pre quarter final Light Welterweight bout against Great Britain's Tom Stalker in a controversial manner. The boxer was at the wrong end of some of the dubious judging calls and he cried "cheating" openly before leaving the boxing arena.
2.4.3. Strengthening WFI:
National Sports Policy 2001 says “It is recognized that the management and development of Sports are the function of the Indian Olympic Association and the National Sports Federations, which are Autonomous Bodies and who, in turn, have affiliated State level and District level Associations. The Government and other concerned agencies and the Federations/Associations have, therefore, to work together harmoniously and in a coordinated manner to fulfill the objectives of the National Sports Policy, 2001”. Because of domination of cricket in India, other sports in India are not getting proper financial support or market. Government should support all the performing sports national federation in terms of space for office, land for construction of academy, grants to participate in FILA’s AGMs and executive committee meeting, support to host international events, etc. Financial aids and grants to the all performing discipline for national federation have to be increased for better management and development of sports. National federations are democratically elected autonomous bodies, government should have faith and should extent support to these democratic sports institutions.
2.4.4. Corporate Houses Mobilization:
Insufficiency of financial resources has been a major constraint in promoting sports in the country except cricket. Cricket is dominating all sports discipline in the country and it also affects the development of other sports talent. Central and State government has to give more budgetary allocation to sports to increase the pride and glory of the nation. In addition to this, our National Sports Policy 2001 says “Accordingly, corporate Houses would be approached and encouraged to adopt and support particular disciplines (as well as sports persons) in the longer term; for this purpose. Tripartite Agreements between the Government and the concerned Sports Federations and the Corporate Houses may be entered into for different Sports Disciplines. In the context of the Policy of Economic Liberalization, the Private/Corporate sectors would be more closely involved with the promotion of Sports, in general, and to build and maintain Sports infrastructure, in particular, with requisite emphasis on the latest technologies.” Urgently, there should be a joint meeting called by Ministry of Sports along with Ministry of Industry and Commerce with all important corporate houses and performing sports National Federation in the country to discuss the implementation of this aspect in our national sports policy. This is not the charity the corporate houses should do for the sports but their corporate social responsibility (CSR) towards the country and sports in particular. This step will bring the corporate houses closer to NSFs and also corporate houses can market their product through performing sports discipline in the country.
2.4.5. Modernizing Akharas:
Traditionally, akharas are the breeding ground for wrestlers in the country. Sometimes back, there were at least one akhara in every village, in these akharas sons of middle class farmers joins under a guru who trains them into wrestling for self defense purpose, nowadays, these akharas training wrestlers for competition. Because of the onslaught of modern-day economy, there is lot of stress and strain on these gurus, pupils of akhara and akharas themselves. Number of akharas in the country is diminishing. In these akharas, wrestlers are practicing on the prepared sand bed, they do not have fund to purchase standard wrestling mat. In addition to this, the inability of guru to sustain himself financially also, withdraw himself from the akharas. This trend has to be reversed. Schemes has to be devoiced at national level to give material support like wrestling mat and other sports equipments and also financial support to gurus and dietary support to budding wrestlers. There should be tripartite agreement between SAI, concerned State Wrestling Association and Akharas for monitoring the flow of fund and more importantly monitoring the performance and delivery of results by these akharas.
2.4.6. Identifying Talent:
Identifying the talents at the early stage is very important to have domination in international games. To identifying the talent, organizing district level championship, state level championship and national level championship plays an important role. Central government is providing very less financial support to conduct national championship and it has not increased its grants in recent years. In addition to this, it is almost impossible to get fund from state government except few states to conduct state and district championship, that too after long delays. There are very little corporate sponsor for these disciplines as discussed above. It is high time to increase the grants which central government provides to its national sports federation and it should fund state association through NSFs for all performing sports with strict monitoring the performance and delivery of results.
OPEX LONDON 2012
This Step Forward is incomplete without appreciating the OPEX London 2012. The commendable work under the chairmanship of Shri Ajay Maken, Hon’able Minister of state for Youth Affairs and Sports and team under the leadership of Smt Sindhushree Khullar, Secretary (sports) has increased the medals tally in London 2012 by two times when compared to Beijing 2008. This 220-250 days crash course of continuous training-cum-foreign exposure for elite athletes has increased the medal tally by two times; it is high time to institutionalize these measures as a Step Forward. Some suggestion for improving the OPEX London 2012:
To increase our medal tally by four times in Rio 2016 and to improve potential strength and natural advantage in performing sports, forward steps should be taken to institutionalize these measures. National Wrestling Academy should be established with international standard immediately and also for all performing sports.
OPEX London 2012 mainly concentrated on development of elite athletes. There are other stake holders in any sports discipline like coaches, referees, national sports federation are neglected. There should be programme for strengthening these stake holders, otherwise performance will depend on individual athletes and it can’t be institutionalized.
The selection of individual members of Apex committee should not be based upon the past performance only but also depend upon the present interest and contribution of the concerned individual on the concerned discipline. Shri Kapil Dev, our renowned and respected cricketer of India, is included in the Apex committee but we do not understand the rationale of non-Olympic game person in an Olympic game preparation.
The President and General Secretary of IOA and NSFs of all performing sports should be included in the Apex committee by name. Olympic charter and the National Sports Policy 2001 gives responsibility of management and development of sports in the particular country to these democratically elected autonomous bodies. Pure government institutions like SAI can’t deliver the required result unless ministry gives more roles for these NSFs.
OPEX London 2012 concentrated on 16 disciplines which is too high. Ministry should classify the sports discipline into performing sports and mass sports and again into performing sports- Group A and performing sports- Group B. Resources and energy should be concentrated/increased accordingly to win more medals in Rio 2016.
All other measures mentioned in other part of this Step Forward may be considered. All these measures requires additional fund allocation. When compared to top 10 medal list countries, India is spending very less amount in sports.
It is the time to decide whether India as a country with more than one sixth of humanity, glorious past, ambitious nation claiming permanent seat in the security council of UN, will stand with top 10 nations in the tally list or with countries like Mangolia, Venezuela, Bahamas, Uganda, Slovakia, etc. Winning medals in Olympics, Asian games, CWG are not just entertainment and happiness but pride, pleasure and glory for the country. Measures should be taken to improve out medal tally by four times in Rio 2016; WFI will demonstrate orientation towards the achievement of results and ensure tangible progress in Indian wrestling. Once again our heartfelt congratulations and thanks to Shri Ajay Maken, Hon’able Minister of state for Youth affairs and Sports and Smt Sindhushree Khuller, Secretary (Sports) and her team for their efforts to achieve double performance in London 2012 when compared to Beijing 2008 by our national athletes.