India's sporting rise faces litmus test in London

London Olympics
New Delhi, Jul 17: India's transformation from a laggard to a nation waking up to its sporting potential would be put to test when the biggest-ever contingent of 81 athletes sets out to prove that the three Olympic medals in Beijing were no fluke in the London edition of the biggest sporting show on earth.

From just making up the numbers and fetching an odd medal every four years, India have come a long way to be in with a genuine chance of winning more than gold and a couple of bronze that changed the face of sports in the country four years ago.

The three heroes of Beijing have made the cut for London as well and while the gold-medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra would aim for an encore with his rifle, Sushil Kumar (wrestling) and Vijender Singh (boxing) would try to get better-coloured medals around their necks.

A nation of more than a billion, India's untapped sporting potential has been discussed threadbare ahead of many Olympics gone by but for the first time, talk is about how many medals the country might get in what is being anticipated as the best-ever show when the 30th Games unfold on Jul 27.

Expectations are sky-high from shooters, boxers, archers, shuttlers and wrestlers and then there are the dark horses in the tennis team which unfortunately spent the better part of its build-up squabbling over who would partner whom -- a reminder that despite some good changes, politics remains inherent in Indian sports.

But apart from the ugly selection row that struck tennis, the build-up to London has been smooth for most of the Indian athletes, who have had little or no complaints about the facilities or coaches. They have had international exposure to their heart's content.

In fact, most of them have left for London much ahead of the Games' start for acclimatisation with a proactive Sports Ministry doling out the money whenever asked to by the national federations.


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