One of the good things of a truly sporting nation is that there’s something to celebrate about at any given time. Take Australia. If its players had faltered in a tennis tournament somewhere on the planet this month, they could jolly well celebrate winning the Hockey World Cup. If they don’t manage to flick their way to the top in hockey, there’s always swimming, cricket, rugby... India’s recent broadening of its sporting prowess brings similar good tidings. We performed abysmally in hockey earlier this month. So what? We’ve just picked up six gold medals in the Commonwealth Boxing Championship with India winning the overall team title. How’s that for a pre-Commonwealth Games booster?
These are interesting times for Indian sports. While cricket gets its ‘natural’ support system, sports like shooting, tennis, badminton, golf and boxing are getting more and more enthusiastic notice. This rebuts the theory that a sport must first become popular among Indians and then alone will the individuals deliver. The truth is the opposite. To provide an example: India may have started following cricket with a vengeance after the 1983 Prudential Cup victory, but a world-beating team had to be there to do the needful.
So as the boys in the ring collecting gold medals, sports like hockey (where we have slid down the pole) and football (where we remain barefeet in the park) should quit their traditional whining and train to be world-beaters. Our pugilists were a knock-out spectacle at this week’s tournament. We hope that other sports in India take the cue and deliver similar upper-cuts.