~ By Dhwani Dalal
‘It takes just 6 grams of Gold to lift the worth of a nation’, says the tagline of Olympic Gold Quest, an Indian nonprofit organization that promotes Indian talent that could bring home the elusive Olympic gold medal. Armed with a new-found assurance, India’s top athletes will seek to write a fresh chapter in the country’s Olympic history as they go into the games with a reasonable chance of winning medals. India has sent their largest contingent ever, an 81 athlete team whereas China sent their smallest contingent yet, a contingent of 396 athletes to compete at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
For long, the Indian athletes had struggled to break the restraints of mediocrity and boost the country’s medal collection in the Olympics until the Beijing Games brought about a remarkable turnaround four years ago. If numbers could turn into Olympic success, India, a country of 1.2 billion should have grabbed several more qualifications and medals. But this year, there is hope like never before, with India competing in 13 disciplines with medal prospects in archery, shooting, boxing, tennis, badminton, and wrestling. While the shooting contingent is still considered to be India’s best bet, never has India enjoyed such a host of champions joining hands in quest for medals, giving Indians hope that’s not unfounded. “2012 will be a breakthrough Olympics from India’s perspective, we will get medals in boxing, shooting, wrestling, archery and badminton” predicts Geet Sethi, nine time world billiards champion.
The preparations for London started a long time ago for the Indian athletes, most of which have gone for training sessions abroad. This has been possible because of the increased government and private funding that has been provided to these athletes, with state-of the art training facilities and world class competition abroad. The Indian government has spent over 2.3 billion (US$50 million), in preparing the contingent for the Olympics under its ‘Operation Excellence Programme’, a tenfold increase from their spending in 2000.
China’s table topping gold medal reign at the Beijing Olympics on the other hand cemented its claim as a sporting superpower. The team, which includes 29 gold medalists from the Beijing Games, will be aiming to maintain China’s status as an Olympic powerhouse. Within the next two weeks, about 11,000 athletes from 204 nations will battle for glory in 39 disciplines with China, United States and Russia expected to bag most of the medals.
It’s certainly not beyond India and if one were to believe in good omens, India sure seems to be living by the Olympic motto: Citus (faster), Altius (higher) and Fortius (stronger)
Let the games begin!
~ By Dhwani Dalal