Anand’s Comment on the Olympic post warranted a separate blog entry by itself. So, I’ve posted his comment as an article.
Let us take swimming for instance. You need great swimming pools, researchers who understand fluid dynamics, companies that excel in fluid dynamics and continuously push their R&D to develop better swim suits, private companies that are willing to fund swimmers during their training and great universities that are willing to hire such swimmers into their program and nurture them so when they are in their mid 20s – they have a post swimming career in place.This is a heady concoction – which is available may be in the G7 countries of the world. Of course, I was surprised to see Coventry is Zimbabwean [of course she spent her last 6 years in Auburn.Cavic is Serbian only for olympics. He is a thoroughbred Californian. The other great swimmers from the non G7 countries seem to have gone to Ann-Arbor or Cal.Basically at this level of competition where the difference between #1 and #10 is less than half a second – infrastructure is EVERYTHING. I can extend this argument to Track and Field as well. San Jose Mercury News carried a story about why Jamaicans rule in Track and Field – it went back nearly 40 years to SJSU. Their athletic program took nearly 30 years to start yielding results. Of course a lot of the research support I mention is now available to those athletes too, who also train a lot in the US.If anything, I am totally convinced that to be anywhere near the top in any of these competitions, you better have the entire infrastructure to support you. When would India grow enough to create such support? Not anytime soon I think. If someone spent $200m to build a fantastic T&F center or a swim center – imagine the ruckus it would create right now. Only when the basic needs of the common man are met, can and will India think of esoteric acts such as excelling in sports come into being.Yes, there are random acts of individual brilliance that bring medals to much smaller countries – which will happen in India too. But as a system that generates medal winning athletes olympics after olympics – I would be very surprised if I saw it happen in our lifetime.
Anand further pointed us to an article written by Amit Verma
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just now saw this post..:)..so, am cut-n-pasting my comment from the other blog… .
@anand: I said, infrastructure is overly hyped and I still hold to that argument. As you rightly said, it is an entire mix of highly skilled trainers, being part of best teams, being constantly challenged to perform well, latest scientific equipments and so on. But, to being nowhere amidst hundreds of countries, is a disgrace (did I mention billion+ population?). Statistically, insignificant…IMHO, citing infrastructure to be a reason for failure is just BS and a loser’s complain for not performing…
All said and done, Indians do have their strong points in academics. And, my point is that, that’s what most Indians focus and that’s where they excel. Honestly, I dont think it is in most indians’ system to take up sports, even for regular well being, forget about olympics or world championship. And, dont call cricket a sport…:)
By the way, it produces a big smirk to think about how academic we get over arguing about sports…
Mindframes, looking at it from a different angle. Indians here are more inclined to exercise – we see quite a few Indians attempting marathons, I see quite a few Indians at Swim schools – why? Because it seen as viable, and because facilities are easily available. How many marathons are conducted in India for people wishing to pursue that venue? Is it popular? No.
Yes….there are good long distance runners, but they are there not because of the system. That is individual excellence – not excellence nurtured from competition within the country.
And that is where Infratructure plays a role. If every city had regular events, well publicised events, rewarding success, and giving people the initiative to make it big – don’t you think it would make a huge difference?
My two cents…
Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals and a professor in India researched on why and how he could do it. Yes, we are good at researching.Lets leave it at that.
Is it necessary for a country to get medals in sports,especially the chinese way. Why do we need to feel bad about it? So what if we don’t get medals. I am sure we will be getting medals in Math Olympiads.
I think once the basic necessities are fulfilled, people might concentrate on sports. Why would the govt build swim schools when there are farmers commiting suicide everyday.
There are marathons happening in all the metros in India now. I feel that is because people there are well off and don’t need to worry about what job they have to do….
Anand@ I agree with your arguments. It not only covered the why but also why not in near future. Neat.
If you don’t have infrastructure (not just a swimming pool but a collective set) all you are left with is individual brilliance.
Crude analogy I could think of his, a excellent runner without running shoes winning all his local competetion trying to compete with equivalent runner with spike shoes.
IMO, it is like pointing out that spikes will help to move him up. (Apparently it is not even a hypothetical analogy, our runners were doing this till 10+ years back 😦 )
I agree with the academics part which as I mentioned will change when the generation-next find it “boring” to study the popular thing. (it is already started happening)
Why we want to aspire for medals? – Because we(Indians watching olympics and analyzing/researching) think we have a ability to do that.
Same way, why we as individuals think we can do better in areas within our abilities.
If I understand right, your point is our ability is not sports but academics (based on the outcome). I think India does have the ability but it has to be nutured by the system.
In the system like china it is easy to channel money for sports even at the cost of dying farmers. With democracy, it will be questioned (rightfully). Because of that, it will take time.
I think we should talk more about this. The more we talk the more medals we rake in 🙂