What the CWG tells us about Indian sport
Neeraj Chopra has shown Indian athletes that they can be the best in the world, but it was up to the others to follow through, and now, even though these are small steps, they are showing they can
A 1-2 in the triple jump, a silver in the 3,000m steeplechase, a silver in the long jump, a silver and a bronze in the 10,000m race walk, a bronze in the high jump, a bronze in the women’s javelin — and all this without the talismanic Neeraj Chopra to boost the medal tally. India’s medal haul at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) underlines how our athletes are excelling in newer arenas and that, rather than the overall medal tally, should be our main focus. The weightlifting and boxing competitions have historically allowed India to set the standard at the Games, but the results in track and field show that the country is finally starting to catch up with the world.
The competition wasn’t world class in all events, but it was still way higher than what many Indian athletes are used to, and by winning medals, they have shown that national records aren’t just a made-in-India phenomenon anymore. Much of this comes down to better coaching and understanding of sports science, but the big change is the amount of exposure the athletes are getting. They are taking regular trips abroad, not just to train but compete as well, and as a result, they are no longer awed by the competition. Avinash Sable believed the Kenyans were beatable in the 3,000m, M Sreeshankar came to CWG expecting to medal in the long jump, and the same is true of many other athletes. Much of sport comes down to do belief and trusting in the method and this is an India that is starting to do both those things. Chopra has shown Indian athletes that they can be the best in the world, but it was up to the others to follow through and now, even though these are small steps, they are showing they can.