After a poor performance by the Indian athletes at Rio Olympics 2016, cries an-and complaints were seen rising in all corners of the country about the mismanagement of the Indian government and sports authorities, about the rigid government machinery that adversely affected their performance. Though, what remains unknown to the public, is the lack of planning among the sportspersons and the extravagant spending of the taxpayer’s money, once the government opened up the treasure. As reported earlier, the Sports Association of India and the sports ministry held 54 meetings between April to August, where nearly Rs 20 crore worth of proposals were cleared. But a closer look at these proposals reveals the clear lack of preparation and last minute haphazardous attempts at excelling at the Olympics. A majority of these demands made by the athletes were related to personal training with foreign coaches, trips abroad, employing physios and purchase of equipment. But it must be noted that even if these demands were met, they could not have possibly bettered the athletes’ performances in short a short period. Avtar Singh, judoka, lost to a refugee athlete in the first round. Now, not undermining the performance of the refugee athlete, one must wonder, a 36-day training stint in Hungary in June and pulse metre, two weeks before the Games began in Rio. In many such cases, athletes tried to avail funds till half of July in a last effort to qualify for the games. Though most of the demands were fulfilled, the Indian contingent couldn’t convert it into medals, for that matter, respectable performances.
According to reports by the Indian Express, the SAI had also bowed down to some of the reputed athletes. With 15 days before the games to begin, sprinter Dutee Chand complained about not having competition shoes to run with. Although, she had been allocated Rs 30 lakh under the TOP scheme. Though her statement embarrassed the government, Rs 2 lakh was wire-transferred to her to buy a pair of shoes with 10 days to go. Discuss thrower Krishna Poonia had been out of the game for quite some time due to injury, and in the meantime had fought in the Rajasthan elections for the Congress. She decided to make a return in April and placed a demand of Rs 40 lakh for training with her husband and coach Vijender Singh in the USA. She did not manage to even qualify for the Olympics. Some athletes had even made demands about travelling with their families; parents and spouses as a part of the Indian Contingent in Rio, as coaches or in form of some officials. Discuss thrower Vikas Gowda had his father with him all along the trip after his coach John Godina did not join him at the mega event due to reasons unknown. Other prominent athletes like Sania Mirza had her mother on the trip to Rio, who worked as the manager of the Tennis team, while golfer Aditi Ashok had the father as a caddie. Race walker Sapna Punia and shot putter Manpreet Kaur were also accompanied by their respective husbands. All these costs were paid by the government, the Indian Express reported.
O.P Jaisha, after collapsing on the finish lines of the marathon claimed that there were no Indian officials present in their designated stands to provide water or to even wave the Indian flags. She had complained that water was made available to them only after every 8 km by the organisers whereas other athletes got refilled by their country’s staff at every 3 km. Though fellow athlete Kavita Raut refuted this statement. She said that Jaisha had not attended the meeting concerning the event. The sports authority had claimed that Jaisha had declined all personalised drinks.
Among all the blame game, India’s best performers at the Olympics were trained in India by Indian coaches. Sakshi Malik was allotted under 12 lakhs while P V Sindhu took Rs 44 lakhs. India’s next best, gymnast Dipa Karmakar needed only Rs 2 lakh from the government. Now, this statement doesn’t imply that athletes should manage with whatever is given to them, but they should have a proper plan for the spending of these funds and a right and regular routine to improve their performances. While blaming everything on the players is a shameful act, raining it down on the government doesn’t help either. Both parties need to work together and work towards preparing for these events months, even years ago. Should the government provide the funds, it must be answered to by the players.