This century belongs to India. Be it technology, export, medical sector, or literature and economy, India’s influence is now increasing in every field. Sports is one discipline where a turnaround is clearly visible.
Barring a few sporting events, Indian sportspersons are exhibiting their potential to the world in every sporting event. Today, these young and dynamic sports persons have become a force to reckon with in the world. From winning the Thomas Cup for the first time in its 73-year history to giving their best performance at the deaflympics and then 25-yearold Nikhat Zareen striking gold at the World Boxing Championship highlights our sportspersons’ passion to succeed at the global level. In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “This passion will open new doors for the progress of our country”. It was thirty nine years ago, on June 25, 1983, that India’s youth cricket team scripted history by winning the Cricket World Cup for the first time.
It was unimaginable for anyone in the cricketing world to give India any chances of winning the cup then. But the so called underdogs gave an exemplary performance and brought laurels to the country. That victory was transformative for the psyche of Indians. The country started to believe that India could do it, that Indians had the skills but more so the will and confidence to win. Ever since, India has maintained its dominance on the cricket field.
With the coming of the Modi Government in 2014, a concerted effort has been made to promote sports beyond cricket. There has also been a serious intent at the government’s level to put more money into sports. From last year’s 2757.02 crore, at present, the sports budget stands at a new high of 3062.60 crore. One specific intervention that is paying rich dividends is the nationwide competitive sports program ‘Khelo India’. In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Khelo India to “revive the sports culture in India” with the aim of identifying and funding promising young talent. Several sports persons have confided to the Prime Minister that ‘Khelo India’ is actually helping a lot of the athletes or sports persons at the grassroots level. In addition to the Government’s efforts, there are several nonprofit establishments by former sportspersons and large companies to build India’s might in sports.
The results of all these efforts are there to be seen. India had its best ever Olympics in 2021. Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold medal in the men’s javelin event in Tokyo was the nation’s first in a track and field event since India gained independence from Britain. India defeated Germany to win bronze in men’s field hockey — its first medal in that sport in 41 years. India also won either silver or bronze medals in five other events. The country’s consolidated medal tally at the Olympics stood at seven.
Recently, India’s women’s badminton team reached the quarterfinals in the Uber Cup. The Prime Minister went on to encourage the team by saying, “Our women’s team has proven its excellence time and again; it’s just a matter of time, if not this time, we will definitely win next time.”
An amazing feat India achieved was in the Deaflympics held in Caxias do Sul, Brazil in May this year. Indian players won a total of 16 medals striking its highest medal tally including 8 Gold, 1 Silver, and 7 Bronze medals. India’s last best performance in the Deaflympics was in 1993 when Indian players won a total of seven medals. Hosting these sportspersons at his residence on May 21, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “When someone with a disability excels in international sports, their achievement resonates beyond the sports world.”
“Such successes infuse a lot of energy and confidence in the entire sports ecosystem of the country. Your victory has done something that cannot be accomplished by the oratory style of the greatest coaches or leaders. Now India cannot be left behind. Your victory is inspiring many generations to take up sports.”
“It reflects the culture of the country and at the same time, it shows the sensitivity, feelings, and respect of all the countrymen towards their outstanding abilities. That is why your contribution to creating a positive image is far more than that of other players. Keep this passion and enthusiasm going. This spirit will open new avenues for the development of our country and ensure a bright future,” said the Prime Minister