India will Break into Top 10 in Olympics-2028
The current Government at the Centre has initiated a slew of policy modifications and additions including Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (an integrated scheme for school education) Khelo India Program is certainly the other one, Fit India Movement and the National Talent Search Scheme, the Eklavya Model Residential School, Centre of Excellence for Sports, Specialized State-of-the-art facilities for one identified- individual- sport and one- group- sport in each State. Now the need is to industrialize Sports; it would prove to be a fitting complementary boost to the eco system. All these will make India attain a place in the top-10 by 2028 Olympics.
India came up with their best ever performance as they finished the Tokyo Olympics with a haul of seven medals, including a gold, and 48th on the medal tally, its highest ranking in over four decades. India would have actually finished 33rd,but for ranking is done on gold medals won. This has made every Indian patriot clap profusely and shout ‘Bravo’.
Neeraj Chopra became India’s Second individual Olympic Champion-after Abhinav Bindra-with his men’s Javelin throw gold at Tokyo 2020. It was India’s First track-and-field medal at any Olympic Games. The medal was India’s seventh at Tokyo-2020-making it their best-ever haul at a single edition of the Olympics. Neeraj Chopra threw 87.58m to clinch the gold medal.
For a Country which symbolizes unity in diversity, the unifying power of Sports will go a long way. Indian Sport has rightly been criticized for its failure to perform well on the international stage despite having a population of 1.33 billion. Keeping in mind India’s demographics and socio-cultural make-up, it is evident that here almost every talentwas deprived of equal opportunity to participate in Sports, avail themselves of sporting facilities, compete at a professional level, or acquire a sustainable- future-perspectives as a professional sports person, for nation’s sport governance was marred by nepotism, corruption, scandals, ineffective leadership, lack of transparency and mismanagement. This led to disastrousimpactculminating into lofty policies with no proper roadmap and displaced priorities, affecting the allocation of resources, thus affecting the Country’s sporting infrastructure, grassroot programs and in essence, its people.
To galvanize these glaring problems, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has been proactive in recent years, creating a myriad of initiatives for the general upliftment of India’s sporting situation. The Khelo India Program introduced in 2018 has been one of the most comprehensive policies, the country has seen for Sports. Designed with the aim to revive the Sports culture in India at the grassroot level by building strange framework for all Sports played in our country and establish India as a great Sporting nation, Khelo India was divided into 12 Verticals focusingon increased participation and competitions, increase in rural sport awareness while honing talent, and strengthening of infrastructure at national level.
The Central government has been trying to enlarge the talent pool through its project Khelo India Games, meant for Competitors upto age 21. For the next two Olympics Cycles, over 250 athletes have already been identified through the Khelo India platform. TheKhelo India scheme, including talent identification, training support and monthly out of pocket allowance of Rs.10,000 to around 3000 athletes has helped athletes in focusing on training. It has unearthed many talented athletes.
Besides, the Centre has identified14 disciplines for Olympics to be developed as medal prospects. It has also launched a ‘One State One game’ initiative in consultation withthe State governments- to make a State proficient in a single sport in which it possesses special aptitude for winning an Olympic medal in that discipline. The central govt. will provide the funding to each State for each Sport. Archery, boxing, shooting, badminton, wrestling, hockey, weightlifting, cycling athletics, table tennis, Judo, swimming, fencing and rowing have been identified as medal prospects. These Sports disciplines will be developed for excellence in Olympics. The players have been provided with world-class coaches, trainers, physios and strength conditioning experts. This is how the country’s notorious reputation for neglecting and under-funding sports, the biggest reason for India’s poor performance in Olympics, has been addressed.
It is through the policies introduced by the Modi government that has led to the establishment of an effective high-performance system as is evident from Tokyo Olympics-2020. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju also says “There is no doubt in his mind that India will break into the top-10 of the Summer Olympics medal table by Los Angeles 2028. The Country has set itself the ambitious target as it looks to improve its standing in global sports”(Inside The Games, June 30, 2020). Based on the Tokyo Olympic Games results, it can be concluded that for a country to gain a place in the top ten, it will have to win more than 30 medals, of which at least 10 should be gold.
Now the question is whether Indian Sports can realistically consider achieving a top-ten’ ‘Position at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 2028. Following the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia where Great Britain Won 28 Medals, UK Sport dramatically modified its national Sport goals and programs to win a record 65 medals at their 2012 London Olympic Games, and further improved on that result at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Canada achieved similar improvement between 2005-2018. Indian Sports can also achieve stated goals but only with a significant modernization of its current national Sports system.
This system needs strong and knowledgeable high-performance leadership, cooperation of the national government and the Sports community and an adequate new financing. Recently there have been improvements in the Indian Sporting ecosystem, such as the extending of contracts of foreign coaches, increasing coach salaries, and support to 258 Junior athletes from twelve sports via a new Target Olympic Podium Scheme. However, to reach a target of 30 medals by 2028, many of them to be gold, much more needs to be done. This is seen happening now.First, there is a clear commitment by the Indian Government and Sports leaders to considerably modernize the current Sports delivery system and to act immediately to make this a reality. There is a need to create a realistic and comprehensive national sport plan to address the many specific goals to achieve modernization. The overall goal must be to achieve World standards in all these areas so that the gap between what exists and what needs to exist to meet top international standards is identified and filled up. Each selected National Sport Federation must formulate realistic national Plans that detail the steps to winning Olympic medals by 2024 and 2028, and they must be constantly evaluated on their progress. The long term ‘domestic’ approach, involves strengthening the existing foundational elements or creating new ones to better serve the national sport community. This includes improving the professionalization and capacity of the National Sport Federations, developing a robust national coach education system, training and supporting Sport medicine and science professionals, ensuring adequate sport facilities and high performance training centers; strengthening school and university sport; developing and promoting the values of “True sport” and anti-doping; creating competition opportunities in the country; funding and improving professional work opportunities for those needed in Sports; and implementing a comprehensive multifaceted athlete support Program. Both long term goals for strengthening the Indian national sport system, and immediate term support for selected sports to achieve Olympic success must form part of much needed national Plan.
The measures recently initiated by the Indian Government show that Central Government and the national sports leaders are all set to accept such a challenge and cooperate, and provide the necessary leadership and resources to modernize Indian Sportsdelivery. There is a need to recognize sports as an industry, for the Sector is intricately linked with sectors such as infrastructure, tourism, education, social welfare, health, entertainment technology, hospitality, etc ; it will disallow the Sports to be looked at it in isolation disconnected from these allied sectors and ensure over all growth of Sports in the country.
By Dr Suresh Kumar Agrawal
(The writer is Professor & Head, Department of English, Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Bikaner.)
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