Rio Olympics: More than just two medals

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One of the famous Sanskrit verse, which adulates Goddess Durga as the embodiment of power and glorifies the entire female community as the incarnation of courage and valour. And the immediate context with which this verse resonates with is the performance of Indian female athletes on the world’s largest sporting platform- THE OLYMPICS.

India concluded another not so satisfying odyssey in the Olympics. But the season also had an interesting gender story for India. Apparently, not just skill and strength, luck also seemed on the “women’s side”. 

A golfer and a gymnast earned cheers and respect; the Indian Olympic association earned ridicule and derision.

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While a shuttler and a wrestler earned medals, love, respect, glory, fans, attention, riches, honor,…  

With two medals, many losses, and even more learnings, the Rio Olympics have given us a lot to reflect upon.  The medal triumphs of PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik in women’s badminton and wrestling respectively is a good trend. 

Hailing from a state like Haryana, which is a male dominated state with a skewed male-female ratio, it is heartening that Sakshi came to fore with obvious encouragement from her parents, well wishers and through her own drive, ambition and grit, wrestled a medal. Sindhu hails from the south, where relatively girls get better encouragement to excel in sports. 19th August was an ordinary day for every person. But it was special for every Indian. A cricket crazy country was suddenly badminton bound. Sindhu brought a cricket loving nation together to watch a badminton match. It was more than a gold. 
Surely, the sporting culture is changing in the country and more so with regard to women athletes. Sindhu and Sakshi provided to be the silver lining, in an overall what seemed to be a below par Olympics outing as far as the Indian contingent is concerned. 

Wrestling - Olympics: Day 12

With these girls breaking taboos about Indian women in sport, India’s sports infrastructure has a huge challenge ahead- nurturing emerging talent and widening the base. The dust has settled on Rio and now we need to learn about moving forward and constantly improving. We will raise a toast to these wonderful women athletes for some time and then forget about them and their hard work. 
We need systems in place. We need capacity expansion both in terms of numbers and infrastructure. It is time we accept that as a nation we have gone beyond a mere qualification. We need medals. We need recognition. 

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The same guys who are responsible for the fiasco would be doing the analysis and they themselves will be giving the solution too. This bizarre scenario has existed since forever. It has not helped and will not help even now. 

And as far as feminists harping on women power, to be honest I never believed in such stuff. Yes, our women did well and it’s a good sign, but to give it a feminist spin doesn’t augur well. Let us focus on capacity expansion, accountability and the right path so that our athletes, both men and women, stay clean and win medals. 

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For now, let us laud Sakshi, Sindhu, Dipa and Aditi.

Jyotsana Rawat

Edited by Mrinaal Datt

Read more about them here

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