Tokyo — On Wednesday, Lovlina Borgohain beat all the girls there at a sumo wrestling ground where women were not normally allowed to enter the ring. She struck her distant home, Assam, known not only for her fine tea but also for her armed groups.
But above all, she fought in the Olympic Women’s Welterweight Boxing Semifinals in India, the second most populous country in the world, who wants even the most benevolent calculations at the Olympics. With the exception of a series of men’s hockey victories many generations ago, India has won only one other gold in the history of the Olympic Games in its 2008 shootings.
“I was 100 percent sure I would go home with money,” said Borgohain, who spent eight years away from home training. Her father used to choose tea to make a living.
Turkey’s Busenaz Sürmenelli, his opponent in Tokyo, may have been short-headed, but his footwork was light and his hits were strong. Borgohain was overwhelmed, and her hope that her sloppy frame would absorb the blows one after another and serve as a role model for the gold medals of millions of Indian girls was shattered.
“What message can I give them?” She said. “I lost the game.”
Borgohain has won a silver medal in women’s weightlifting and a bronze medal in women’s badminton, followed by India’s third bronze medal in these competitions.
However, the same question is asked in India every four years (five years in this case). Why is the country so bad at the Olympics? And is that also important?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, enthusiastic about raising India’s global profile, has decided to do so. After India’s substandard performance at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games (one silver medal, one bronze medal), the government has been short of funds for decades and has funded a corrupt sports bureaucracy. I started pouring. Private ventures intervened to train elite athletes who may have access to an upward trajectory. And state money is also beginning to flow into grassroots sports.
“Currently, the government is working hard to change the sports system,” said Bijay Sharma, a weightlifting coach who has worked with Tokyo silver medalist Mirabai Chanu for seven years. “But they have to do a lot. They have to run a long journey.”
Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medalist, said the sporting environment today is different than when he won the 10-meter air rifle competition in Beijing. He said there were 200 participants when he entered the shooting nation as a young man. Recently, 20,000 people participated in the contest, and another 20,000 did not. He said the eight members of Tokyo’s Indian shooting team are number one or number two in the world in their category.
“It may be the beginning of a new era of sport in India,” said Bindra.
But so far, Tokyo has been the same area of
Not everyone in India is convinced that the country needs to measure self-esteem with Olympic medals. According to them, India is already a sports powerhouse, not just participating in the Olympics.
By far the most popular entertainment in India, cricket boasts a lucrative national league and the country is skyrocketing in the top international tier of sports. Sports promoters have also announced the Kabaddi Pro League. Kabaddi is an ancient group tag in South Asia where players sometimes have to recite the word “kabaddi” many times. (Voice is intended to ensure that the player exhales during the attack.)
The fact that Indian sports viewers are concentrated elsewhere except for a few weeks every four years does not alleviate Tokyo’s frustration. The surge in funding prior to the Games raised expectations for gold. Indian sports officials unveiled an Olympic delegation of 127 members. It was the largest, youngest, and most decorated ever in India.
But for Indian Olympic athletes, the weight of national expectations has been crushed, especially after months of competition, especially due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 19-year-old Indian archer, who had been pegged as having the potential to win a medal with an air pistol, admitted that the burden of winning in a sport where concentration was paramount was distracting.
In Archery, Atanu Das wrote the word “calm” in his hand when he played in the 1/8 elimination round on the weekend. He lost. The day before, his wife and fellow shooter Deepika Kumari, despite being the best in the world, did not move beyond the quarterfinals.
“Maybe we took this Olympics too seriously, an Indian delegation,” Das said. “We forgot to enjoy shooting and skills.”
Indian archers were training in an ambiguous state. The promotion of the new Olympics has given them a sudden fame, along with months of free training in military sports camps. The attention was overwhelming, the athlete said.
“No one knows when we win the World Cup. No one knows when we win the world championships. No one knows when we become the best in the world,” Das said. .. “But Indians are competing in the Olympics, so everyone knows everything.”
“This is always the pressure in my head,” he added.
Bindra, a gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said his success was rooted in family wealth rather than state support. His father built a world-class shooting range at his home in the northern city of Chandigarh. He then replenished it in the pool and gym so his son could build his muscles. At that time, New Delhi was the only equivalent shooting range.
Former captain of the Indian hockey team, Viren Rasquinha, has become CEO of Olympic Gold Quest, a non-profit group founded by former top athletes to promote the talent of the next generation.
Rasquinha said the country’s sports authorities have abandoned some of its awkward, graft-filled reputation, but it takes time to create an ecosystem of coaches, training facilities, infrastructure, and equipment. ..
In recent years, the harvest of India’s most powerful Olympic athletes has come from the small land of northeastern India, where ethnic minorities live in the shadows of the Himalayas. These states, Manipur and Assam, are home to rebels fighting for autonomy from the Indian states. Because of their ethnicity, the people there often face discrimination.
“Rural youth have a passion and fire in the belly that is lacking among urban students,” said Rasquinha, whose group funded some of these athletes.
As a Christian, Mary Kom, a light flyweight boxer from Manipur who won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, said she had long faced prejudice from Hindu nationalists who somehow said she wasn’t a true Indian. .. There are also racist whispers, but because they are not so quiet, the people in the Himalayan hills are more martial than the rest of India, which is why they make good boxers.
Com has six world championships in her name. She was the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in boxing. After London, she gave birth to another baby. She and her husband currently have four children. She said, “I always want a variety of foods to cook for them.” So she cooks. She also won a seat in Congress. A biography starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas was made about her.
“People in Manipuri, especially women, have a fighting spirit,” said Com, who grew up distributing food to save money on sneakers.
Com has energized a generation of Manipuri athletes, including the weight lifter Jung Chan Woo.