India has fared worst in the Olympics of recent times. India won two medals in the Rio Olympics, which is less than 6 medals in 2012 London Olympics and 3 medals in 2008 Beijing Olympics. In any case India has not been able to accumulate medals in the double digits ever in the history of Olympics. China, with comparable population consistently comes within first three medal/gold winners. Therefore, which are the factors that constraint us in winning more medals in Olympics or other international sporting events?
Indian media and the people of India were overjoyed with performances of P V Sindhu in badminton, Sakshi Malik in wrestling and Dipa Karmakar in gymnastics, although none of them could win a gold medal for India. The reasons cited for such dismal performance has been poor infrastructure, poor physique, poor diet and the lack of the so-called killer instinct. Another factor is too much of emphasis given to cricket and the funding overwhelmingly is earmarked for this game. But one should not forget that cricket has very limited audience and is largely limited to the Commonwealth countries.
Diet is a major factor. Researchers feel that majority of the Indians are vegetarian, leads to protein deficiency among Indian sportsmen producing competitive disadvantage in them. Moreover, Indian food culture also encourage eating lot of fried foods which is detrimental to their sporting abilities.
Along with the undesirable food habits are usually slight build of the Indians that compounds the problem. However, this is not major factor as some other nations such as China, Korea and Japan whose athletes are also slight build have much better performance than Indians. This is because their training facilities are superior to ours along with their coaching and the coaches. They also bring in internationally renowned trainers for their athletes. As far as India is concerned, the internationally renowned trainers are brought mostly to cricket, neglecting the other sports.
The household culture towards sports in India has a role to play for the poor athletes that we produce. The primary objective that is taught to the children in India is studies and faring well in education. The sports are taught to be taken as recreation rather than a full time objective.
Indians’ attitude towards young girls also is not conducive for taking up sports as a profession. The case in point is the parents of Shakshi Malik when they were ridiculed for allowing their daughter taking up wrestling, traditionally considered as men’s sports.
The Modi government promised to improve the sporting performance of India. If they are serious about it, they should consider these factors so that a sporting culture is developed among common Indians, especially in the rural areas along with world class training facilities so that over the long run it can make a difference to the Indian performance in Olympics and other major sporting events.