As per an estimate, over 400 million out of 1.25 billion people in India watch television whenever the national cricket team participates in the big game. This is the testament of how much cricket is loved and celebrated in India and is perhaps the only sport which integrates the nation into one.
However, the dynamics have now started to shift due to few amazing individual performances at the Olympics, and Asian Games. Not that it has taken away anything from Cricket as it still continues to be the most cherished sport in India. But what it has done is open more doors for the young deserving talented individuals in India, says Sanjay Dalmia, who is immensely proud of India’s recent success in individual sports.
India’s history at the Olympics:
India first participated in the Olympic Games in 1900. Main contribution of medals came via Hockey when the country registered its first ever gold in 1928. 1948 was the year when India won gold medal as an independent nation. Dhyan Chand was one of the most influential hockey players of his time and won 3 Olympic medals. It’s due to his tremendous success that, his birthday, 29 August, is celebrated as National Sports Day in India every year. This period is thereby very precisely referred to as the “Golden era of Hockey”.
Sensational participants changed the perception:
In spite of achieving great success in the history, we didn’t capitalize well enough at Olympics until the arrival of few great sportspersons who changed the perception of India in the western society. They showed great character and told the world that India is very much capable of being competitive in sports other than cricket. In 2008, Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. Icing on the cake was Vijendra Singh’s first bronze medal in boxing.
It has been strengthened with the likes of Sushil Kumar, Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik who brought so much fame to India not just at Olympics but also at Asian and Commonwealth Games. Since then Indians haven’t looked back and started focusing even further on individual sports and the good thing is that people now keep a track of such tournaments as well.
At present, names such as Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, Hima Das, Vijendra Singh, Mary Kom are as famous as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli in the Indian houses.
Current scenario and future potential:
Thanks to these young talented individuals, there has been a rise in non- cricket sports and now we have more sports that we can look up to. There is however a need for better infrastructure, training. The investment should be at par with cricketers. This can boost the morale of current sportspersons to work harder and that of young children as well, as they can then focus on sports other than cricket too, believes Sanjay Dalmia.