Indian sportsmen have made the nation proud with their outstanding performance at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham
Indian athletes performed well in the recently concluded Birmingham Commonwealth Games (CWG) securing a total of 22 gold, 16 silver and 23 bronze medals and a fourth place after Australia, England and Canada. Ernakulam-born Navyman Eldhose Paul, 25, won historic triple jump gold and became the sixth Indian to win a CWG gold medal since legendary Milkha Singh won it in 1958 on 440 meters. India won four medals on the last day of the athletics competition in 30 minutes and the athletics medal tally rose to eight -1 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze which is the best in history of the CWG outside the country and only second in the spoils at the 2010 edition in Delhi.
India’s women’s hockey team overcame the stopwatch controversy to beat New Zealand 2-1 to win the bronze medal. PV Sindhu and Lakshya Sen won gold in women’s and men’s singles badminton. A total of 215 athletes represented India in 15 disciplines. Almost all states and union territories were represented, out of which Haryana with 39 athletes had the highest representation, followed by Punjab (26), Tamil Nadu (17), Maharashtra and Delhi (14 each).
India has its own sports geography. Medal prospects come from a wide range of sports, each enjoying popularity in a different region. The northern states of Haryana and Delhi had representation in contact sports like judo, wrestling and boxing. Haryana has excelled in producing some of India’s finest athletes in events such as boxing, track and field events, and cycling. In the women’s hockey team that narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal, eight women in the squad of 18 were from Haryana. Several boxers and wrestlers like Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Jasmine Lamnoriya have many medals. The southern states of Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have talent in racquet sports such as badminton, squash and table tennis. Athletes from this region have distinguished themselves with recent successes. Badminton stars PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth are from Telangana and at least seven squash players and five table tennis players are from Tamil Nadu. In the North East, Assam, having the 15th highest population in India and almost negligible resources compared to Haryana and Tamil Nadu, sent seven athletes to Birmingham. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with a population of four lakhs, did remarkably well in cycling giving Esow Alben the first Indian cyclist to reach the top 10 in the world rankings. Analyzing the sports scenario and the performances of the athletes, it is clear that most of the star athletes who have performed well come from modest family backgrounds, and if better facilities are provided to our youngsters, their performance can be improved. Reacting to a report submitted by the amicus curiae, lead counsel Gopal Sankaranaryanan suggested that the ‘narrow’ ‘sport’ phase be replaced with ‘physical literacy’, which is a term ‘firmly established as fair in major nations world sports,” the Supreme Court asked the Center and the states to respond to a report recommending that sports be expressly made a fundamental right under section 21 of the Constitution. A bench headed by Judge L. Nageshwar Rao had ordered the Center to respond to the report’s advice to establish a “National Physical Literacy Mission” to “give effect to the law by establishing and implementing a matrix of responsibilities which includes program design, compliance monitoring and mechanisms for review, grievance and self-correction”. “All school boards including CBSE, ICSE, State Boards, IB, IGCSE should be tasked with ensuring that starting in the school year, at least 90 minutes of each school day is devoted to play and games. free games,” reports Mr. Sankaranayanan in the Supreme Court recommended. He suggested that the state government should ensure that beginning with the current school year, “all non-residential colleges and schools mandate access during non-working hours to children in the neighborhood to use sports facilities free of charge, subject to basic standards of identification, safety and care”. The report further pointed out that 180 days should be given to educational institutions to publish a “physical create a committee to deal with cases where there is a failure to fulfill the responsibilities of ensuring students’ right to physical literacy.
Furthermore, the National Education Policy (NEP, 2020) has emphasized that sport should be given due consideration in the new interdisciplinary model of education. Sport should be an integral and compulsory part of education, as it helps to develop good health, discipline, team spirit and character building. A module including credits on entrepreneurship, sport, life skills and communication should be developed and made compulsory for all students from high school onwards. Central and state governments should increasingly invest in sport. Haryana is a living example to follow.
(The author is a veteran journalist and chairman of the Panwar Group of Institutions, Solan, Himachal Pradesh. Opinions expressed are personal.)