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Tokyo Olympics: India’s Forgettable Saturday & Beyond

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Kolkata: Weekends are not meant to be sombre, on the contrary, shedding the workload of the week gone by, you feel like cutting loose or in other words freaking out. There is no place for aberrations or distress as you set for a journey to recharge your batteries to bounce back afresh.

However, if you are a sports aficionado yearning for your country’s sportspersons to hoist the tricolour atop, this weekend for Indians has not taken off with a bang. In others words, the dismal show of our Olympians in Tokyo this Saturday has not gone down well with us.

Our hopes of Olympic glory have been dented much to our chagrin. One by one, our athletes — revered and adored — have been found wanting. Be it Atanu Das (archery), Amit Panghal (boxing), Pooja Rani (boxing) and the zenith of failure, PV Sindhu (she still can win a bronze though) in badminton. One after the other, the hopes of billions fell like a pack of cards.

The only solace is our women’s hockey team that somehow scraped into the last eight courtesy Great Britain’s win over Ireland following their victory against South Africa in the morning.  Yes, add to it discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur making it to the finals but then shooters Anjum Moudgil and Tejeswini Sawant failed to carve a niche.

This may not be strong enough to satiate our appetite for that coveted Olympic medal as they stand a slender chance of bringing a medal. Abysmal and disillusioning — one can’t hunt for better words to express the angst and frustration we as part of a sports-loving nation are going through at the moment.

As a journalist and more importantly an Indian, the prolonged wait for that success story has been futile today with our world-class champions’ efforts coming a cropper on the biggest stage in the world of sports.

What make our vexation exacerbate are the heart wrenching and encouraging tweets from our political honchos and celebrities in a bid to find glory amid the gloom. Can we spare a minute and introspect as to why our so-called world number ones and twos cut a sorry figure when it comes to the Olympics?

At the same time, when world championship triumphs fail to generate the deserving recognition, our champions leave no stone unturned to vent their ire blaming the administration for its apathy.

Hey, hold on! We are proud of you, but let’s not forget world championships or Commonwealth or Asiad are not the criteria to make an indelible imprint on our hearts. Even a bronze at the Olympics is hailed as euphoric, the ecstasy of which can’t match that of bagging medals on inferior platforms.

When a Dutee Chand fails to make the cut, we empathasise with her, but little do we realise that minnows race past us on the medals tally.

So what is ailing us? Do we pass the buck to lack of infrastructure? That will be a gross injustice. There are athletes who are provided with the best of facilities to gear up for the biggest occasion, but still, they turn out to be a damp squib. A country of billions with a sports-crazy Prime Minister minces no words while eulogising our sporting culture, but does he have the time to fix the malaise?

A Mirabai Chanu and another Lovlina Borgohain have done us proud, but what about those who have stymied our hopes time and again? What about Deepika Kumari or Monika Batra?

To cut the long story short, it’s not about one Saturday, but a pathetic display of athleticism culminating in an array of sob stories that should be of greater concern. Anybody listening?

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