How has India made progress in international sport
While India has an extraordinary sporting tradition, it has been impacted by invaders or even during independence. But despite all the obstacles, the country has stood firm in its global position, encouraging more sportspeople to participate.
“Nation at Play”: A History of Sports in India, written by Ronojoy Sen, Visiting Senior Researcher and Professor at the National University of Singapore, followed the timeline of sports in India from its beginnings to the present day. In his book, he mentioned the transformation of sports from the royal pastime of the nobility into a national obsession and linked it to the ideologies of colonization, nationalism and market liberalization.
In the history of sport, no one would ever have thought that the role of caste was very important in social and economic equality at that time. Due to social stratification, people of different castes and religions could not play together or get along well. The great epic books of India, Ramayan and Mahabharat, have also specified hunting, wrestling, swimming and archery as forms of traditional sports. Cricket was a product of colonization, which was later adopted by India.
Chinese travelers Hiuen Tsang and Fa Hein mentioned many sports activities in India, including swimming, running and ball games, which were very popular among Nalanda and Takshila students.
India’s debut at the Olympics and Asian Games (before independence)
The time when India was not free from invaders, who ruled the country and took their monopoly. Regardless of their brutal treatment, India still managed to come close to the 1900 Olympics in Paris. Norman Pritchard was the only representative from India to have managed to win silver medals in the 200m sprint and 200m hurdles. However, it is still a debatable question whether he represented India or Britain.
After a nearly two-decade hiatus, India returned to the international stage at the Antwerp Olympics, where not one, but five athletes competed.
The early 90s was also a time when women were more like shadows whose presence was felt but not seen in reality. But at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, a woman made her debut in the tennis championship. The Amsterdam Olympics was one of the most iconic as it actually marked the beginning of hockey’s magnificent run. The invincible Dhyan Chand scored 29 goals as India won their first gold medal. The trend of winning gold continued at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Survival in international sports before 2010
The dominance of winning gold medals was alive until 1960 when Pakistan broke that chain by winning a gold medal. Hunting her again, India found her again in 1964. But later India declined. In 1968 and 1969, India snatched the bronze medal and again secured the gold medal at the Moscow Olympics.
India’s first gold medal in non-men’s field hockey came at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, when Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav triumphed to win bronze in the men’s freestyle bantamweight division . After almost 40 years, India could manage to clinch bronze in men’s singles tennis. The period of 1980s was a tough time for India as they could not win a single match at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul.
In 2008, Abhinav Bindra again carved the name of India with pride after winning a gold medal in the 10 meter air rifle at the Beijing Games in 2008. To date, India has won four medals in shooting after Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won a silver medal in men’s shooting-double trap in 2004.
Winning the original game of the British, cricket, was not a cup of tea. But the 1983 World Cup is still remembered today for its iconic win over the West Indies.
In a country like India, where people breathe cricket, some of them choose a different path. Mihir Sen rose to prominence in 1958 after becoming the first Indian to cross the English Channel from Dover to Calais. He became the only person to cross all five oceans in that calendar year. In the Asian Games of 1982 and 2006, India swept the spotlight by capturing the top spot in the sport of golf.
Running like lightning, PT Usha also won four gold medals and one silver at the 1986 Asian Games.
The Lightning Kid, Viswanathan Anand, made history as the first Indian to win the World Chess Championship. In 2009, Saina Nehwal caught everyone’s attention as she was the first woman to win a Super Series tournament.
Government aid in modern times
Over the past 121 years, India was able to get 28 medals till 2016. With a population of 135 crores in the country, it is a bit difficult for every champion to stand out as not everyone has financial support for this training. . To support them, the government has put in place:
Olympic Action Plan: In 2016, NITI Aayog had presented initiatives to get 50 medals at the 2024 Summer Olympics. The focus is on sports and physical education which should be implemented in the schools. Most players in Germany and China are identified at the age of 4-5. Thus, these countries have been very successful in identifying talent.
National Sports Development Fund: Established in 1998, the NSDF supports budding sportspeople by offering them the opportunity to be trained by internationally renowned experts and coaches for global competitions. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) donated 50 crore of funds.
National Sports Federation Assistance Program: This is a program available to national championships at the senior, junior and sub-junior level for men and women, who wish to participate in international competitions. Till 2018, there were Rs. 302 crores of funds in his pocket.
Mission XI Million: One of the emerging sports in India is football. It was launched in 2017, aiming to reach 37 cities and 12,000 schools in 29 Indian states. It had originally planned to train around 1.1 million children in the country.
India has produced several sportsmen who have marked India in the world charts and have come a very long way not only in cricket but also in other sports. Every Indian will remember when Sachin Tendulkar took an emotional retirement after winning the 2011 World Cup and Mary Kom’s comeback.