For half a month, beginning end-July, cricket-fixated Indians became keen fans of archery, boxing, shooting, wrestling, weightlifting, tennis, badminton…
It was the Olympic effect.
India sent its largest ever contingent of athletes to the London Olympics this year and came back with its biggest ever medal haul — six.
True, we didn’t get a single gold, but what our performance did was show that we have the potential and the talent to do well in sports other than cricket. The task ahead is to work hard and tap that potential.
First, of course, as a nation we need to take more pride in sports. Second, we need greater focus.
We need more grassroots-level facilities like the Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan, which provides sports infrastructure and gyms in every district. We need better coaches, talent spotters, sport medicine experts, sport psychologists and mental trainers.
We need something on the lines of a finishing school for our sportswomen and men.
In fact, sports minister Ajay Maken recently announced a sports science centre and this could be a real gamechanger for Indian sports.
To fuel the beginning of such a single-minded focus in sports, instead of frenzied last-minute coverage before the next Olympics, Hindustan Times will bring you insightful and sustained coverage of how India can prepare for the 2016 Games, and track the performance and progress of our top sportspersons over the next four years.
Be with us.