It may be closing ceremony for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, not Indian sports!

In a wonderful gesture, PM Narendra Modi will meet and greet all the Indian athletes on October 10, celebrating their nonstop sports training and the glory that they have brought in for the nation.


It may be closing ceremony for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, not Indian sports!

Harmanpreet Singh and Lovlina Borgohain leading the Indian contingent during the opening ceremony of 19th Asian Games (Via Open Source/X)

It is the official closing ceremony at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Sunday night. The formalities of handing over the baton to the next host, Nagoya, Japan, will also take place towards the end.

The last fortnight in this host city has been emotional. From an Indian perspective, winning 107 medals, an all-time high, is mind-blowing. Sitting in the cool comforts of the drawing room or bedroom and turning critic or being a social media king is the easiest thing.

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Arise, stand, clap, and cheer our heroes who won medals. Given the size of the Asian continent, for India as a team to win 28 gold medals, 38 silver, and 41 bronze medals is a fresh dawn. So, this is not the closing ceremony tonight for India. Triumphs in Hangzhou mark a fresh dawn. One has to build on, get ready for the Paris Olympics in 2024 as well as prepare for the next Asian Games.

Competing in sports is not like a semester exam where you score marks or grades and then move on to the next syllabus. Out here, the process is non-stop. One has to keep working, keep refining, and get to the top. That is one part. The cycle of training, peaking, and then going into an off-season comprises the cycle.

Neeraj-Chopra-Kishor-Kumar-Jena-asian-games
Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Kumar Jena grabbed gold and silver, respectively, at Hangzhou Games (Via Open Source/X)

One must look at the positives. That is the only way forward. Rewind and look at the way Neeraj Chopra had to argue, fight, and then return to his base. He then came up with a smoking attempt of 88.88 meters to win gold in javelin.

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Look at the images of how the men’s kabaddi team stuck ground. They knew the rules better than the officials, protested, and won their points and an eventual gold.

To beat Iran was one of the high moments. And if you happened to be one of those ignorant of rules used in the Pro Kabaddi League and the international Kabaddi matches, please brush up. If Neeraj is the face as a champion who takes on the world, Pawan Sehrawat, the kabaddi captain is also a giant in his own right.

India destroys Pakistan in Kabaddi, advances to Asian Games Final with eyes on gold
Indian men’s kabaddi team in action (Via Olympics)

This is the new Indian athlete, not meek, ready to take on the world. One has to be a street fighter of sorts, one has to stare at the officials and throw the rule book at them. If you do not fight and say, “I am happy with silver,” it’s all over.

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Theorists will write how more medals came. Perhaps, the Indian government, which now fully controls the sports system understands the needs of athletes better than the incompetent national sports federations. One can look at the annual budget and say, not much is being spent on sports. Sports fans need to know foreign coaches are paid salaries in thousands of dollars, not peanuts. If you pay peanuts, you will only get monkeys. This is applicable to all walks of life.

Embracing a professional approach, identifying the strengths in the sporting discipline and weaknesses is a task. This is where the Sports Authority of India and the Sports Ministry have played a proactive role. Nobody went to sleep after the success of the Tokyo Olympics. And nobody will chill after these Asian Games.

Sports training is nonstop. There will be celebrations in India. On October 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet and greet all the Indian athletes. Such a wonderful gesture this, the PM embracing success and also motivating more athletes.

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Today’s Indian athlete is bold and beautiful

The other day, in an interview with FirstSportz, PT Usha, President of the Indian Olympic Association said India is today a sporting nation. She referred to a change in image and how the mentality is no longer the same. Anju Bobby George has also spoken of how Indian track and field stars are not of just Asian level any longer. They have the standards to challenge the world in bigger events like the Olympics and the World Championships.

To name just a few winners in this piece and leave out a few will be wrong. Medals won in rowing, shooting, equestrian, archery, kabaddi, cricket, and track and field are indeed creditable. Some disciplines will not be part of the Olympics, like squash.

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Dipika Pallikal and Harinder Pal Sandhu clinched the top spot in the squash mixed team event
Dipika Pallikal and Harinder Pal Sandhu clinched the top spot in the squash mixed team event (Via Open Source/X)

Does that mean one ignores squash? No way. One has to continue in the same way, train in cycles for the Olympics and the next Asian Games. One is not even talking about the Commonwealth Games, as it’s almost as good as over. These colonial Games is struggling to find a host after Victoria pulled out.

The Indian athlete is today bold and beautiful. In sport where India failed, like tennis, weightlifting, wrestling and men’s boxing, a course correction will not happen overnight. Massive efforts need to be put in.

For this writer to have reported through the Asian Games, first from New Delhi and then Hangzhou, there are so many emotional memories. For sheer guts and tenacity, Neeraj Chopra handling pressure and the men’s kabaddi team sticking to its ground was a standout. That is the advantage from reporting on the ground, you are not getting a two-dimensional view of TV sets. Watching live and writing is the real thing. You are presenting the most correct image in words and photos. All, in real time, at F1 speed.

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