With the developed world signing off proudly at the 2012 London Olympics, having done the job with some class, the Olympics baton will now be picked up by Brazil, a developing world economy in 2016, in the first summer games to be staged in Latin America. Beijing 2008 was a story of superb efficiency, while London, despite some early hiccups, put on a show with a lot of charm. There is no doubt that it will be a huge challenge for Rio de Janeiro, the next Olympics destination, to match both these cities. But Brazil's hospitality and charm will definitely match Beijing's grandeur and London's warmth.
On the field, what is the story going to be for India in Rio de Janeiro? India, one of the most economically vibrant countries even in these trying times, managed just a handful of medals in London. Even by the country's modest sporting standards, it is a story of underachievement. To do better in Brazil, India will have to rejig its long-term plans if it wants to better its 2012 record. The time has now come to focus on individual events, instead of team sports. India's best hopes appear to lie in shooting, boxing, badminton, and despite the flop in London, in archery. In all these disciplines, there is talent that can be nurtured to face the world's best. This is exactly what China has been doing for so many years — concentrating on certain individual disciplines they are good at. Mind you, like in India, there too everything is State sponsored, although the comparison ends there. The target for India is challenging but not unattainable. All stakeholders — the government, federations and corporate houses — must come together to lift our standards.
India has two options. Either it can drown in the statistical comparisons being made to show how hopeless a sporting nation it is. Or, rise individually and collectively, and tell itself that if its athletes set their minds to it, nothing is impossible.