Dec 15, 2006

Doha Asian Games, India.....

..... and related musings.

Seeing China’s insatiable gold hunt at the Doha Asiad, one can only say that India’s performance at the games is satisfactory. Although we have won more medals this time the gold medal tally – which actually decides the ranking - is nothing to write home about - - just ten gold medals. Even the tiny nation state of Singapore won eight gold medals.

China came to this Asiad with a
contingent of 600 plus athletes in which about 400 were rookies i.e. athletes with no international exposure prior to this Asiad. And these athletes just won a total of 300+ medals including 160+ gold medals. If this was the trailer then one can only imagine what the Chinese will be unleashing on the world stage in two years time at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

It was disappointing to see our shooters ending up with silver and bronze medals instead of gold especially when we performed very well in the recent Commonwealth games earlier this year and have world champions shooting for us. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was
shooting off his mouth instead of letting his gun do the talking. It was left to ‘old hand’ Jaspal Rana to save us from embarrassment by winning three gold medals.

Tennis was one event where we could have made a clean sweep – at least in the men’s events. The team events were disappointing. First of all Mahesh Bhupathi who had other plans, went to the press when the tennis federation paired Sania Mirza with Leander Paes. This ensured bad blood between the “Indian Express” pair and Mahesh’s deliberate underperformance in the doubles team event against Taiwan cost us the gold. After this it was Leander’s
turn to go off but somehow good sense prevailed and them teaming up for the individual doubles event got us a gold medal. The final against the Thai twins was one of the most nail-biting ones I have watched in my life. It is not every day you get to see two legends - probably in their last hurrah together for the country in the Asian games - saving match point after match point in the second set and then going on to win the match in the third and deciding set against a lively young Thai duo. Unfortunately soon after the gold medal win Mahesh was at it again – whining.

Just how can there be so much bad blood between two of India’s greatest ever tennis players (for me they are legends and better than the Amritrajs and the Krishnans if we go by number of grand slam wins) who were once inseparable and called “Indian Express” is still a mystery. There were days when their exploits on the tennis courts worldwide made us proud and gave immense joy to a country that hardly produced homegrown world champions. Those chest bumps, fist punches and mid-air high fives simply energised the Indian Express duo and gave them that adrenaline rush they needed to make every Indian tennis fan go wild with joy. As all good things should end one day this one too ended but never thought this one would end so prematurely.

The track and field events were another huge disappointment. Compared to the last edition of Asian games when we won eight T&F gold medals, at Doha we won just one gold. Of all the silvers we won here, the men’s relay team silver was a real surprise, as I didn’t expect it. Anju Bobby George disappointed by ending up with just a silver medal.

Chess, which was introduced for the first time,
helped us add 2 gold medals. The three-member team that won the gold medals was from Andhra Pradesh.

For China its rich medal haul is a reflection of its prowess and supremacy as a sporting giant and not an embarrassment of riches. Totalitarian regimes have usually produced ‘better’ sportspersons than free regimes. During the cold war days the East European Communist countries led by the former USSR produced ‘better’ athletes than the West European Democratic countries. The two Germanys – Communist East and Democratic West - were the best examples to illustrate this point. The
1988 Olympics - where both the blocks participated - brought out the difference in the German athletes. East Germany with 37 gold was second in the medals tally and West Germany with just 11 gold was at fifth. It was only after the end of the Cold War did the world get to see the elaborate training regime the Communist countries had for their athletes. It was a regime where usage of banned performance enhancing drugs was the norm. This was something the free world always suspected and today it is suspected the same with China.

India’s 54 medals (10G 18S 26B) are certainly going to make the sports ministry and officials very happy. However the thirteen medals won by the athletes of a particular state has not only embarrassed the sports body of that state but also made them a worried lot. The
strapped for cash Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh has to cough up the promised cash prizes for the medal winners from the state. Former CM C. Naidu had promised Rs.10 Lakhs for a Gold, Rs.7.5 Lakhs for a Silver and Rs.5 Lakhs for a Bronze for medal winners in Olympics, Asian Games, etc!


Chandra said...

RS, thanks for the summary - I finally read it :) I guess we weren't present from swimming to team sports like hockey and football. Is kabbadi still in there - who won that? (I am serious, I love it).

I guess AP case proves that incentives matter, especially cash incentives.

RS said...

Of course Kabaddi was there and we won that. After all it was our sure shot gold and wouldnt we do all that is required to keep it in the Asiad?

Hope it makes to the Olympics soon. Then we can start winning at least one gold there. ;)

RS said...

BTW,it is better to leave Hockey alone as long as Gill is lording over it. That man will kill it before his term his finished on this earth. We didnt even make it to the Semis this time. Pathetic!