‘Asian Games Medal Haul is Joint Victory of Sportspersons & System’

Ved Prakash Sharma, an ISSF certified shooting coach, says the synergy among contestants, sports authorities and Govt initiatives was behind India’s record tally. His views:

As the dust settles on the most recent edition of the Asian Games, India stands tall with a record-breaking medal haul. The performance of Indian athletes on the international stage has left many wondering about the factors that have propelled this success. It is essential to recognize that India’s achievements are a result of a delicate blend of state support, grassroots talent, and government policies aimed at nurturing budding athletes.

India’s surge in the Asian Games can be attributed to the multifaceted approach taken by various stakeholders in the world of sports. It is not merely a case of state support or the sheer tenacity of athletes, but a combination of factors that have contributed to the nation’s resurgence as a sporting powerhouse.

One of the significant contributors to India’s success in the Asian Games has been the government’s proactive involvement through the “Khelo India” initiative. This program, aimed at the grassroots level, is designed to identify and nurture young sporting talent. It provides financial assistance to selected athletes, approximately seven lakhs, to help them pursue their sporting dreams. This monetary support plays a pivotal role in allowing athletes to focus entirely on their training, thus fostering an environment conducive to excellence.

Furthermore, the “Khelo India” initiative has led to the organization of structured sporting competitions at the grassroots level. These competitions serve as a platform for young athletes to showcase their talent and gain exposure. The selection process and training provided through “Khelo India” helps in identifying potential stars early in their careers, enabling them to represent the country on a larger stage.

But India’s journey to the top at the Asian Games is not merely a product of government policies. It is also a testament to the grit and determination of athletes from Tier 2 and 3 towns. The narrative of resurgent India is incomplete without acknowledging the countless individuals who have risen above challenges to make their mark in the world of sports. Their journey serves as an inspiration, proving that talent knows no geographical boundaries.

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The presence of numerous athletes hailing from smaller towns and villages reflects a significant shift in the country’s sports landscape. The lack of state-of-the-art facilities in these areas has not deterred the aspiring athletes. Instead, they have shown a remarkable ability to overcome hurdles, often training with limited resources and facilities. Their success speaks to their indomitable spirit and the potential that lies untapped in remote corners of the country. 

In addition to “Khelo India”, several state governments have also played a pivotal role in encouraging sports and promoting the aspirations of athletes. For instance, in Punjab, more than dozens of players have been appointed as police officers, ensuring not only job security but also enabling them to continue pursuing their sporting careers. This approach not only empowers athletes but also sets an example for other states to follow. It offers a blueprint for how state support can be effectively integrated with the athletes’ aspirations.

While the efforts of the government and state bodies are commendable, it is important to note that the journey to success is fraught with challenges. These challenges require dedicated coaches and judges who are instrumental in the development and assessment of athletes. As an ISSF Certified coach and jury/judge, I can attest to the importance of high-quality coaching and unbiased judging in nurturing talent and maintaining the integrity of sports. These elements are the backbone of a strong sporting foundation.

To wrap it up, India’s remarkable success in the Asian Games is a testament to the synergy between state support, grassroots talent, and well-conceived government policies. The “Khelo India” initiative has been instrumental in identifying and nurturing young talent, while athletes from smaller towns have showcased their indomitable spirit. State governments have also played a vital role in encouraging athletes and ensuring their job security. It is a collective effort that has propelled India to the pinnacle of Asian sports, and as an ISSF Certified coach and jury/judge, I am optimistic that this momentum will continue to flourish in the years to come.

As told to Deepti Sharma

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