I don't know how many of you follow the Olympic games of 2016 going on at Rio in Brazil. But when I talked to some of my friends, they do ardently and passionately follow some events in Olympics and also sports where Indians are involved. This time, largest ever Indian contingent (about 120 people) went to Rio to represent the greatest sporting event on earth. So naturally, some more medals were expected this time. I wanted to write this article after I, rather the whole of India, witnessed Dipa Karmakar's stupendous performance in gymnastics. But it got postponed to another 2 days, and now I am sitting and writing after Sakshi Malik became the first woman wrestler to win a medal in the Olympics and which came as a huge relief for the medal starved country.
I am sure my fellow Indians would not have heard of 'produnova' vault in gymnastics which is life threatening and the one executed by Dipa Karmakar to near perfection. Produnova is considered to be the toughest in women's artistic gymnastics and not even a handful had attempted for the fear of life. Dipa Karmakar may have lost a medal by a whisker, but succeeded in winning 1 billion Indian hearts. Everybody sat wide awake to watch her final performance. I thought she might crush under pressure. But she didn't. She could have as well won a bronze medal if it had been more straightforward events like swimming, track and field events like running, jumping, pole vault, marathon etc. But in gymnastics it is more arbitrary, as 5 to 6 judges write the scores which will be slightly variable. Though the Olympic games is supposed to be free and fair for all, the human mind is not all the time balanced and impartial. We are all predisposed or inclined to some attributes more than others. The skin color, height, ability, disability, slow, fast, rich and poor, preference to English language over our languages and like that towards certain countries like western countries which occupy predominantly white people. Also, they are more advanced in many fields especially sports compared to rest of the world due to better infrastructure, training, commitment. Gymnastics and Nadia Comaneci of ex-USSR was synonymous. Russia and other countries of ex-USSR, some western countries like France, Switzerland, and of course the sports giant USA have hogged the limelight in the gymnastics for a long time. India was never in the picture. Dipa Karmakar is the first ever Indian gymnast, not just to qualify, but also to be in the top 4. To miss a medal by a whisker might seem a bit unfair not just to me, but also for my fellow Indians. While we are not familiar with the scoring system and technicalities, by instinct, we can say that she/he performed well and deserved a better score. Were the women from Switzerland and Russia awarded more score than they deserved? Some of us including myself feel so. Had she belonged to USA or Switzerland or Russia, would she have been awarded more than 15 in the 1st round? These will remain unanswerable forever. She has shown that Indians also can enter gymnastics but the prevailing biases cannot be removed. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award has been announced for her, but to hunt for a medal in Olympics, she has to struggle for the next four years and age will not be on her side. But for us Indians, she 'HAS WON THE GOLD'. Hope this golden girl is never forgotten even after the medals won by Sakshi Malik, PV Sindhu etc.
As I finish writing this, the whole of India is in sense of euphoria celebrating the entry of badminton player PV Sindhu into finals which means an assured silver and a possible gold. The 1st bronze medal came from the most unexpected quarters. ie. from Sakshi Malik in wrestling. So far, in this Olympics, girls are carrying our country forward!!! Of course, not to forget the coaches and the families behind these girls!!
P.S. An afterthought .......In the heart of our hearts, hope the biases will be reduced when more and more Indian sports persons prove their talent in future Olympics!!