The best and worst of Indian sport in 2012

PK_Dec_31From the comfort of one’s drawing room, one could sense that all of India came to a standstill for six enthralling minutes on August 12 as it tracked wrestler Sushil Kumar’s 66kg class gold medal bout against Japan’s Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu in the Olympic Games. You could feel the collective energy of a whole nation willing Sushil Kumar on. There was no more exhilarating moment for Indian sport in all of 2012.

For just around a fortnight, as India ran most successful campaign – two silver and four bronze medals – in the quadrennial event, India was sold on Olympic sport. Be it the bronze medals won by Gagan Narang in 10m air rifle, Saina Nehwal in women’s singles badminton, boxer MC Mary Kom in women’s 51kg class and Yogeshwar Dutt in 60kg freestyle wrestling or the silver medals claimed by shooter Vijay Kumar in 25m rapid fire pistol and Sushil Kumar, India erupted in joyous celebration.

Clearly, it was the culmination of years of some fantastic teamwork by the athletes, their coaches, their Federations, NGOs like Olympic Gold Quest and Mittal Champions Trust as well the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport. It only showed that if such team work is sustained and built upon, India could realistically aspire to win 20 Olympic medals in the year 2020.

The International Olympic Committee’s decision to suspend the Indian Olympic Association has little competition for the worst moment in Indian sport in 2012. Of course, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna’s ungainly spat with the All India Tennis Association led this race. In an unprecedented incident, the two players defied the AITA selection and took turns to reject the selectors’ decision to pair them up with Leander Paes. Yet, this seems petty when IOC Member Randhir Singh led the way for IOC to suspend IOA after it became apparent to him that he would lose his hold on IOA in the elections. It has to be hoped that IOC, which many mistakenly believe is the confederation of all National Olympic Committees, will let wiser counsel prevail sooner than later.

This piece was written for Prabhat Khabar, December 31, 2012