I had never followed the Olympics as a kid – I saw no reason to. Whom do we cheer? What do we cheer? My sports viewing started with cricket in 1991 and then I finally caught onto the Olympics fever in 1992 with the Barcelona Olympics. I was in awe of the athletes on display there. There was nothing to cheer for my country though!
In 1996 – Already a teenager, I had no clue how it felt to see your country win a medal at the Olympics. Dear Leander for being the first one to give me that joy and pride, you will always be special. Grand Slam and Davis Cup wins you gave us plenty – but that medal which broke a 16-year old drought, for us – the 80s kids will be a moment to cherish for the rest of our lives.
In 2008 – Married and settled, all grown up, I had never heard the Indian National Anthem play at the Olympics stage. For letting us experience that joy in 2008 Beijing Olympics – Abhinav Bindra you will always remain special no matter what.
In 2012 – 6 medals! Goosebumps, and what’s more I saw most of them live on TV. I envy the kids today who witnessed this fine moment in India’s Olympics history. I was so overwhelmed with the performance in the last 2 weeks that I cried today as the curtains fell over the 2012 London Olympics.
I cheered every athlete, learnt a whole lot of new games, read up on the unknown stars and made a promise that I’ll follow their journey not just at this Olympics but until the next one in Rio.
I hope these wins bring about some change among our sports administrators – where we ensure that upcoming athletes do not face the hurdles that these winners have been through. We must encourage our next generation to take up sports as careers and we must work hard at giving them the best training, infrastructure and coaches. They must learn to compete at the highest levels.
We won 6 medals from a contingent of 81 but in most sports we fought well – made it past the qualifying rounds in most events and had finalists in quite a few.
To the medal winners who did us proud – A huge standing ovation:
Gagan Narang: Shooting, Bronze Medal, our first medal this Olympics.
Vijay Kumar: Shooting, Silver Medal – Most unexpected and managed to watch it live on TV
Saina Nehwal: Badminton, Bronze Medal – Most hopes pinned on this young girl and she did not let us down
Mary Kom: Boxing, Bronze Medal. Medal or not she remains an idol for many to follow. Respect, respect, respect.
Yogeshwar Dutt: Wrestling, Bronze Medal. Won it with a swollen eye – this medal is the one that gave me the most joy.
Sushil Kumar: Wrestling, Silver Medal . The first Indian to bring home 2 medals from the Olympics. What a way to wrap up the event for India.
A huge applause to these fine fighters:
Krishna Poonia – 7th in Discus Throw. Only the 6th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and field event
Vikas Gowda – 8th in Discus Throw. The 7th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and field event
Irfan Thodi – 10th Place in the 20Km walk. Read his story here.
Joydeep Karmakar – 4th place in shooting. Missed the bronze by 1.9 points
P Kashyap – Badminton. Quarter-finals – First Indian Male player to reach so far in Olympics. Gave the #1 ranked Lee a real fight
Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponappa – Badminton Doubles, Landed a tough draw, lost first match and came back strong to win their 2 matches against stronger opponents.
Devendro Laishram – Boxing, Quarterfinals. Aptly named Chota Tyson – the 20 year old is a serious medal hope in the next Olympics to come.
Luka Tintu – Athletics. 800m Semi-finals
A few disappointments in boxing, archery, hockey, shooting – but we will take them with a pinch of salt.
They won and performed despite the system. We applaud them and the efforts of their family, coaches and training staff. We applaud those officials who did lend support to them. We applaud initiatives such as the Olympic Gold Quest and Mittal Champions Trust who came together to fund these medallists to achieve their goals.
Today we applaud, we cheer out loud – cynicism can wait for a day right?
Today we the 80s kids want to experience the joy that we never got in our childhood – of seeing India win so many medals at the Olympics.
Today we celebrate, smile, laugh, dance our hearts out, shout at the top of our voice, rejoice, and feel proud! Feel very very proud!
P.S: Wondering how we can contribute to help our athletes and their cause? Want to see more medal in the future Olympics – believe in them and their potential? Here is what I’m going to do and I suggest we all do our small bit – Go Power your Champion at the Olympic Gold Quest.