Asian Games: A watershed moment for Indian sports - Hindustan Times
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Asian Games: A watershed moment for Indian sports

Oct 09, 2023 04:48 AM IST

While our achievements at the Asian Games are indeed laudable, they're part of a larger narrative as we build towards the Paris Olympics

The culmination of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou marks a watershed moment in Indian sports. Not only it is our biggest medal haul at the Games, but it is also a legitimate pointer towards the present and future of Indian sports. The crossing of the 100-medal mark isn't merely about numbers. It symbolises India's rapidly evolving sports landscape and its aspiration to be among global leaders in various disciplines. When we set ambitious targets, we are not just aiming for medals, but we're defining our path, crafting our journey, and demonstrating our collective intent to the world.

Indian men's hockey team players pose for a picture on winning gold in the men's hockey at Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou on Friday. PREMIUM
Indian men's hockey team players pose for a picture on winning gold in the men's hockey at Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou on Friday.

The culmination of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou marks a watershed moment in Indian sports. Not only it is our biggest medal haul at the Games, but it is also a legitimate pointer towards the present and future of Indian sports. The crossing of the 100-medal mark isn't merely about numbers. It symbolises India's rapidly evolving sports landscape and its aspiration to be among global leaders in various disciplines. When we set ambitious targets, we are not just aiming for medals, but we're defining our path, crafting our journey, and demonstrating our collective intent to the world.

Also read: Asian Games: The secret behind China's sporting success

This achievement becomes all the more poignant given that we've set forth our intentions transparently and then watched them manifest. While hitting the target is a matter of immense pride, even if we'd fallen short, the sheer commitment and tenacity displayed by our athletes would still be commendable. It's a combination of the relentless efforts of our athletes, coaches, and support teams, backed by the proactive initiatives of our government and sports federations. It's about the journey and the collective will to excel.

This edition of the Asian Games has been replete with moments that epitomise excellence, determination, and sheer talent. The skills displayed by our shooting team, setting world records in the process, have been nothing short of phenomenal. Equally impressive was the Sutirtha and Ayhika Mukherjees' incredible victory over the world No.2 team in table tennis – a testament to their hard work and strategic brilliance.

Saurav Ghosal's medal tally speaks volumes of his consistent performance over the years. Then there's HS Prannoy's bronze medal, which wasn't just a win in sports but a triumph over physical adversities. The journey of Satwik and Chirag in Hangzhou, winning the first gold medal for India in badminton, is another story of perseverance meeting opportunity. It proves that precocious talent, if guided well, has the potential to become a world-beating force.

While Neeraj Chopra's continued brilliance wasn't surprising, the ripple effect of his Tokyo triumph, as evidenced by Kishore Jena's commendable performance, underscores how inspiration can uplift an entire community. In totality, these memories from the Asian Games serve as a powerful reminder of India's sports potential.

The ascent of prodigious talents such as Aditi Swami in compound archery and Anahat Singh in squash is a reflection of the changing dynamics of Indian sports. They represent a generation that's not merely content with participation; they aim for domination. Their success signifies more than just individual brilliance. It's emblematic of a broader cultural shift wherein our youth, armed with self-belief, robust training infrastructure, and an ever-improving support system, now dare to dream big and challenge global standards. The rise of such young champions is a heartening sign of the vibrancy and depth in our sports ecosystem.

While our achievements at the Asian Games are indeed laudable, they're part of a larger narrative as we build towards the Paris Olympics. The experience, confidence, and resilience our athletes have gained here will undoubtedly serve as a foundation for their preparations for Paris. But it's also essential to understand the context - the Olympics bring together a broader spectrum of global competitors, many of whom our athletes may not have faced in the regional events. Therefore, while we should carry forward the positive momentum, we must also be grounded in our preparations, recalibrate our strategies, and aim for even higher standards as we look towards the challenges and opportunities in Paris.

The fact is, an athlete's life is an offering of proof. Proof that we can be as good as yesterday. Better than yesterday. Better than tomorrow's man /woman. In sport, yesterday never counts. The athletes must celebrate their achievements and then regroup and get back on the saddle to prepare for the larger adventures that await them. To sustain the momentum, we need an ecosystem that supports continuous improvement - be it in training methodologies, infrastructure, or exposure to international standards. Every day is an opportunity to prove oneself anew, to challenge one's limits, and to grow stronger. The past accolades are reminders of our capabilities, but the future holds the promise of what we can become.

I once again extend my heartfelt congratulations to every athlete who represented India at the Asian Games. Each one of you who wore the India jersey with pride and passion deserves our respect and recognition. Here's to many more.

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