Why India can’t achieve its Olympic goals

By: |
December 28, 2019 2:02 AM

Data highlight that 20% of the 51 athletes monitored by the study missed their period, while 90% were deficient in iron.

With the 2020 Olympics around the corner, there is not much the government can do. But, it can commission more research, keeping the 2024 50-medal goal in mind.

When prime minister Modi announced, back in 2016, that a task-force would be set up to improve India’s medal tally at the Olympics—Niti Aayog also released a plan to get 50 medals by 2024—many had imagined a UK-like push for enhancing India’s performance. In the 2012 Olympics, the UK had become an example of mixing technology and sports, as the country finished third in Olympic medal table with 65 medals, of which 29 were gold and 17 silver. But, a new study highlights India still has a long way to go before it can even get its athletes performance-ready.

Published in the Indian Express, a report by Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) on women athletes in India shows that an alarming number of them miss their periods, and are deficient in key minerals. Indian female athletes showed higher deficiencies and health risks when compared to their counterparts worldwide, putting them at significant risk of suffering career-threatening injuries as well as long-term health consequences, including osteoporosis.

Data highlight that 20% of the 51 athletes monitored by the study missed their period, while 90% were deficient in iron. More importantly, the study said that 39% of athletes develop what is called Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) syndrome, which occurs due to low-calorie intake, and results in missed periods and weakening of bones. While the study is a first of its kind and does show that India is taking sports seriously, the government needs to act to address the issues it raises. With the 2020 Olympics around the corner, there is not much the government can do. But, it can commission more research, keeping the 2024 50-medal goal in mind.

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