Ouch, that really hurt: the Indian hockey team could not even win one match in the London Olympics. Okay, there is one match to go and the South African players are no lions on the field, but then it doesn’t make things any less gloomy for sports aficionados because all that the boys in blue will be fighting for is to save us from the ignominy of being at the bottom of the heap.
Optimists may still see the glass half full — the Indian team failed to make it to the Beijing Olympics and has at least made it to London — but the truth is they put up a dismal show. And for heaven’s sake, let’s not pull out that hoary old chestnut that participating, and not winning is everything. We are probably the only country that believes in that dictum. We really would have loved to see the boys on the podium with medals around their necks; or at least, a respectable finish somewhere in the middle of the league table.
Now that the team has lost the plot so miserably, there will multiple post-mortems. Some would even say that the government is responsible for miserable performance since it does not spend enough on the sport. To some extent maybe such an allegation is true, but then when we won those eight golds, six on the trot from 1928 to 1956, there was hardly much State support to talk of.
What did they have that the present team doesn’t? Maybe it’s the spirit, maybe an insatiable hunger to win — or maybe just the amazing talent we once had at our disposal.
These are difficult times for Indian hockey and we should not react in our usual emotional manner, instead we should clinically ponder over what went wrong. After all, hockey is not the only sport we have done badly in, many other medal hopefuls have let us down in London. But instead of whining and pointing fingers at the game and the players, maybe we should stop focusing so much on one single sport and its glorious past and invest in others where we are doing well like shooting and boxing. But hockey should not be our national sport anymore. It’s time to move on instead of scoring own goals all the time.