Where Are The Indian Tigresses?
Hiya everyone! Yes, I am really back. Lets discuss something that has been bothering me for more than two decades (about the time, I started following sports regularly). India is the second most populous nation in the world, yet when events like the Olympic Games roll around we find ourselves nearer the bottom that the top in the medals tally. I have often wondered why because as a patriotic Indian and an avid sports fan, this bothers me a lot, but till now, could not come up with some satisfactory answer.
We don’t have any excuses really. True, a large percentage of the population lives below the poverty line but that’s no excuse. Consider the example of Wilma Rudolf, who was at one time called the fastest woman on Earth. She didn’t come from an affluent background and had to overcome seeming insurmountable odds but still made the world sit up and take notice.
Wilma was born into a large African American family in the Southern US state of Tennessee, the twentieth of twenty two children and her father was a railway porter and her mother a maid. At age four she developed complications caused due to the polio virus and had to wear braces and orthopedic shoes while growing up. Neither she nor her family gave up however. Through continuous treatment, she recovered and started playing basketball in high school, where she was spotted by the track and field coach of Tennessee state university and soon became a member of the US track and field team. She took part in the 1956 summer Olympics in Melbourne and came home with a bronze medal at the age of 16. In the 1960 Rome Olympics she set the world on fire when she won the 100m, 200m and 4*100m relay. She became the first woman to win Gold in three track and field events in the same Olympics.
I don’t think Wilma Rudolf had an easy time getting to the top. She had to surmount enormous odds at a tumultuous time, when the civil rights movement in America was in full swing. She reached the pinnacle in woman’s track and field thanks to a solid coaching system (she was part of the Tennessee State University’s famous Tiger Bells) and a steely determination born out of fighting against obstacles since her childhood.
There are millions of women, in India who have the talent and ambition to make it big in the world of sport, but what is being done to support them? Every year we see crores of rupees being pumped into men’s cricket but what about the other sports like athletics, swimming and diving. In the 2012 London Olympics, we were not able to manage more than a couple of silver medal and a small handful of bronze. Not even a single gold and we are the seventh largest nation in the world in terms of area and the second most populated. Smaller less developed nations like Jamaica, Kenya and Ethiopia were far ahead of us in the medal tally.
Why is this happening? Why isn’t India being able to produce a Wilma Rudolf or Florence Griffith – Joyner and Allyson Felix? Ask yourself this and you will find the answer soon enough: it’s because barring a handful, most Indian families do not really encourage their daughters to take up sports as a career. And even if the girls do so they rarely find support from family and sponsors alike.