In three days of the fortnight long Rio Olympic Games, India have drawn a blank so far. On Monday, they came close to a medal, when ace shooter Abhinav Bindra figured in the final eight in men’s 10m air rifle competition. At one time, Bindra was among the top two and for long; he stayed at the third place. In the end, he missed out in the shoot-out for third place. No medals came India’s way but Bindra still emerged as world’s fourth best shooter in the event. On Sunday, Indian women’s archery team also lost narrowly to the Russian team to miss a chance of moving to the medal round. Despite many athletes missing out on their chances, plenty of competition is yet to come from members of the Indian Olympic team and even if they don’t bring any medals, they will not be found wanting in delivering their best performance. Also, the Indians are mentally quite strong and keeping themselves unaffected by cheap journalism, whereby they have been accused of having come to Rio for a selfie picnic. The self-proclaimed and high-handed columnists do not understand that the level of competition at international level is going up every day and athletes have to constantly strive to match themselves to those levels. If India could send its largest contingent ever to Rio, the credit goes to the improvements by Indian athletes to achieve those minimum qualifying standards for the Olympic Games. All of us know India is not a great Olympic nation like USA, China, Australia and European countries but they are trying. The heightened level of competition can be gauged from the fact that in the first four days at Rio, 7 world and 18 Olympic records have already been broken.
After Beijing Olympic gold medalist missed the bronze medal in the 10m air rifle finals by the thinnest of margins, he didn’t complain or made any excuses. Bindra was using a damaged rifle but he didn’t mention about it. He knew the competition was hot and the eventual winner from Italy Niccolo Campriani also broke the previous Olympic record. But the fourth place finish was just as creditable though it didn’t drop any medal in the Indian’s bag. This has happened to India earlier on two occasions. In 1960 Rome Olympics, Milkha Singh finished fourth in 200m sprint and in the 1984 Los Angeles Games, PT Usha also finished fourth in 400m hurdles.
What irked Bindra was not his performance but a nasty dig by Indian socialite and columnist Shobhaa De, who tweeted that Indian team’s goal at the Olympics was going to Rio, clicking selflies and returning empty-handed to a huge waste of money and opportunity. That same day, India’s men’s hockey team also came up with an exhilarating performance against the powerful German side. They lost 1-2 but matched Germany stick-for-stick until the last four seconds of the match, when Germany scored the winning goal. Bindra responded to De’s taunt by tweeting that her remarks were hugely unfair to the entire Indian contingent. Bindra added that De should be proud of Indian athletes, who were perusing human excellence against the whole world. Others joining Bindra in slamming Shobhaa De were; former Indian hockey star Viren Rasquinha, tennis player Jwala Gutta, actress and politician Gul Panag and Mumbai congress leader Milind Deora. But the unrepentant De retweeted next day to say; she stood by her tweet because she didn’t name any player.
Whatever De says, her remarks are in bad taste. If she didn’t choose anyone in particular, it makes her tweet even worse because she is hitting every single member of the Indian contingent. In a country lacking in sports culture and modern facilities, many Indian sportspersons have still excelled in some fields. Take the case of Saina Nehwal and her colleagues in badminton, who have made their names in a sport dominated by the Chinese. Or Leander Paes, who made his seventh appearance in Olympics. Only recently, an Indian athlete broke an under-20 world record in men’s javelin. Only last month, Neeraj Chopra grabbed global headlines with an 86.48 meter throw of the spear at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Chopra will not be seen in Rio in coming days because he missed the Olympic qualifications. But he is only 18 years of age with time on his side. If he keeps improving, he could rise to the fame in the foreseeable future.
@DeShobhaa that's a tad unfair. You should be proud of your athletes perusing human excellence against the whole world.
— Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) August 9, 2016
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