China is already training kids for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics scientifically, strategically, systematically, giving them backing and financial security. We have a government and a huge bunch of sports mandarins running our sports federations and associations, who apparently think it is their duty to crush any effort by committed individuals to do something for the cause of sports.
Just look up the newspapers over the last couple of years. I find that most sports bodies in the country are run by the same people who were running them when I first came into sports. Theres hardly any infusion of new initiatives, no meaningful talent hunting. I am ashamed that people like me and Milkha Singh are still considered sports icons in our country. Both of us never won anything more than fourth places in the Olympics of our time. Is it not a reflection of where India stands in the global sports arena
Even today, athletics is the best bet for India in sports, whichever way you look at it. Consider this: An average district athletics meet still draws about a 1000 contestants, and their number is still upwards of a lakh and a half each year, countrywide. Athletics is a community sport that brooks no class or other differences. You can run barefoot and win a race, without strapping on unaffordable gear. And do we have exceptional talent coming up The only record of mine that still stands is the one I clocked in hurdles at Los Angeles in 1984, all the rest have been vanquished.
I now run a sports school that I have founded in my home town. I would say that four of my wards are Olympic material. But they need to be provided with what I could never dream of in my time: Advanced scientific training, international facilities, complete state backing, and yes, financial security for the future. If we have these, I am confident that India would begin winning three to four track medals in each Olympics from 2012. We need to see that there are no narrow bias, no class, creed or parochial considerations, when we pick our young sportspersons to be groomed.
There is a dire need for some attitudinal correction among sportspersons. Many talented young ones look at sports as just a vehicle to get them jobs or some money. That has to change. Sports cant be just that if you are to really make your presence internationally. These are crucial things India needs to do for its sports:
Our sports promotion and control systems need overhaul.
Give our young ones all the facilities that their peers have in developed countries.Equally important is strategic planning of their development. The years after they turn 16 should be devoted to planned development in theirspecialisations. Right from honing the basics at Level 1 to preparing them for a specific big event at Level 4.
Give them enough live competition exposure.
Financial security is equally vital. When you get off the starting block giving everything you have for your country, you need to be sure that the country will take care of your future.