first_imgThe curtains comes down on the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow tonight and India can feel reasonably happy with their showing. By rough projections, by the time the final medal tally is arrived at, India would have finished with close to 60 medals.It is the gold medal count which decides the standings on the overall table but there is no cause for remorse as preparations this time have not been as elaborate as they were before the scandal-ridden Games in New Delhi in 2010.Freeze frames from the New Delhi CWG invariably remind us of chaos and confusion, be it over the Games Village dirt or rain ruining the stadia. That, however, did not stop the athletes from winning in a variety of disciplines. There was pessimism in the air before the teams left India for Glasgow. But looking at the glow from various arenas, the Indians have done well despite impeding factors.Without sounding cliched, we are still not a sporting nation like South Africa or New Zealand, so to hopefully finish ahead of them this time in the medal tally is a plus which one can be proud of. Then again, for a country which wants gold medals as if it’s buying them at a souk in Dubai, the funding for athletes has not been as lavish as it was four years ago.Agreed, for each medal India wins in the international arena as a result of sweat, toil and tears, there is invariably government funding with a few corporates chipping in.advertisementWithout getting into the nitty-gritty of counting where each rupee goes, let’s be sure that barring cricket, in each sport, an Indian athlete wins a medal as a result of the taxpayers’ money being spent. If you take a shooter — from his weapon to bullets and foreign coaches being hired, it’s all thanks to sarkari paisa. The story is the same in many other disciplines as well.So where does the government go from here in terms of supporting athletes? The Asian Games are just six weeks away and, in less than two years, the Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro. Without getting miserly, the government needs to fund the disciplines where medals have come from. This concept of ear-marking a few crores in the annual budget will not work.Sport needs to be given the same priority as infrastructure development as then alone can we dream of more medals in multidiscipline sporting events. Reflecting on the last ten days, it was sheer joy to see new faces winning medals in a variety of disciplines from wrestling to weightlifting and boxing to gymnastics.Shooting was a bit of a disappointment as the gold medal count is low compared to the performances achieved before this in New Delhi, Melbourne 2006 and Manchester 2002.The good thing about shooting is that new talent is being thrown up and we find youngsters like Malaika Goel, Apurvi Chandela and Ayonika Paul winning medals.The way wrestlers and lifters have performed is a pleasant revelation as these are disciplines where allegations of drug abuse have been painful in the past. In weightlifting, it’s almost a new crop which has started delivering and in wrestling, Haryana’s contribution is awesome.Likewise, it’s very heartening to see Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal succeed in women’s doubles squash. These girls have worked hard for years in an unheralded sport, and their gold medal will work wonders for youngsters who love the sport.I am aware some people are still not happy with the number of medals won by India but considering that events like archery and tennis were not part of the Glasgow programme, one can feel happy. Also, the pairs event in shooting was done away with in Glasgow and has now again been reinstated for Gold Coast 2018.Medals in judo from Navjot Chana, Shushila Likmabam and Kalpana Devi and Dipa Karmakar winning bronze in artistic gymnastics are out of the blue for many of us. What it goes to show that there is talent, depth and drive among the Indian youth and winning medals is possible.In hockey, the much-maligned men’s team is in the final and faces powerhouse Australia once again. Riled and ridiculed after the poor showing in the FIH World Cup, the team is trying hard and should be encouraged.Looking ahead, if people think India will win the same number of medals in the Incheon Asian Games in Korea, it would be foolish. Apart from the hosts, China and Japan, even smaller countries from the Middle East have the power to win medals in a variety of disciplines. The biggest lesson to be learnt from Glasgow is that today Indian sport does not depend just on the likes of Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt. The new crop has arrived and needs to be encouraged.advertisementAs for the cynics, they have to stop comparing India with sporting powerhouses. Even today, the youth of the nation is forced to think twice before jumping into serious sport thanks to the pressure of the taxing academic [email protected]last_img

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