Those who believe that notoriety is better than anonymity, will agree that the mucky run-up to perhaps the most well-publicised Commonwealth Games in in history served to market this anachronistic tribute to the erstwhile British Empire better than any public relations firm could have. But what was expected to be a damp squib, thanks to CWG Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi and Co.’s shenanigans, is ending with a bang for Indian sports.
And it’s not just our athletes who deserve that march to the podium, but also ordinary Dilliwallahs who, rather surprisingly, stuck to the script — and their lanes — much to their own surprise. From standing up for other countries’ national anthems to bringing down the house every time India’s was played, sports fans showed a sporting solidarity rarely on display beyond the cricketing pitch before. In fact, the biggest loser in the game was the sarkari babu. Right from expecting a 16,000-capacity stadium crowd to stand in hour-long queues for water from a meagre booth or two, to withholding tickets for major events; from making a big deal about stray comments in the foreign press to swatting genuine problems of volunteers and spectators aside, the State’s lack of imagination was directly proportional to the common man’s enthusiasm for joining in the Great Indian Gold Rush.
Scandals and scams aside, sports were in the spotlight like never before, as India cheered for previously unsung heroes who found their mark and shot, wrestled, served and volleyed their way into history and record books alike. So, as the curtain comes down on the razzle dazzle, a befitting tribute to their achievements would be to deal squarely with the ugliness that has been brushed temporarily under the carpet, and deal with all that did — and could have — gone horribly wrong.