National Interest: There’s a gold lining
- Trouble mounts for Sreesanth as Mumbai cops gather more evidence
- SIT to seek Supreme Court guidance on Maya Kodnani death penalty issue
- Tamil Nadu police bans Yasin Malik-linked pro-Eelam public meeting
- Kings XI Punjab end IPL 2013 campaign with a win
- Narendra Modi: India losing sheen as agricultural nation
To our London dark cloud. There's progress — and a lot to build on
Medals apart, one of the more stirring Indian moments of this Olympics came on Friday evening when Amit Kumar, still 18, who stumbled into wrestling because his father delivered milk to Guru Satpal's akhara, was beating World Championship bronze medallist Hassan Sabzali Rahimi of Iran in his pre-quarter final bout in the 55-kg category. Just a little later, the quarter final was cruelly stolen from him for a Georgian MBA student by some of the most horrific refereeing you have seen. Most of us missed both of these — a wrestling bout at this level just lasts four-six minutes. Amit, it seems, carried a twin curse: of awful refereeing and poor timing. I surfed all the news channels while his bouts were on, and all of them had, live, what looked like the greatest piece of breaking news. No, it wasn't one more silly turn in the Baba Ramdev Comedy Show, but the fact that Yuvraj Singh had been selected for the Indian T20 cricket team.
Now, what is the point, you might ask? How does some poor teenaged milkman compare with the reigning prince of Indian limited overs cricket, the one sport in which we are world-beaters? A little footnote may be in order here, for whatever it is worth: in the very wonky T20 "world" rankings, India figured at No. 8, behind even Bangladesh until last week. And, by the way, the BCCI so loves the Tricolour, it did not even bother to field a team at the Guangzhou Asiad (2010) where cricket featured for the first time. Will you ever see Brazil or Spain showing similar contempt for Olympic football?
The short point here is the different standards we apply to Indians who play different sports. A cricket star remains a star, whatever your team's ranking. As long as you somehow remain in the top-half of a league that consists of, at a stretch, eight nations, we honour our cricketers as national heroes. But when it comes to Olympic sports, anything less than a medal is a waste of time, if not a national shame. This is irrespective of the fact that each individual — like Sonepat teenager Amit, for example — has to compete in a field of several even at home to qualify for the Olympics, and has to grapple with many others similarly picked by various countries out of a field of hundreds, if not thousands of the world's best.
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