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QuoraED: Why Can’t Indians Win More Olympic Medals?


QuoraED is a section where we pick a popular thread doing the rounds on Quora and build a story around it. We include some interesting answers given by other users on this thread. 

India has desperately been waiting to get a medal at the Rio Olympics 2016. Moreover, with the news of the deplorable treatment given to the players and the callousness and ignorance of the Ministers who accompanied the players in Brazil aggravated the levels of resentment among the Indian populace. Although even we do not have the right to feel disappointed because it is only during those ten seconds of glory that we want a piece of their success and forget to acknowledge their existence otherwise.

Well, finally Sakshi Malik just got India its first medal competing in the 58 kg category becoming the first Indian female wrestler to win a medal at the Rio Olympics 2016.


The media all over the country obviously went berserk and multiple reactions started pouring in to congratulate Malik.

While surfing through the internet on the same, I came across a question on Quora in this backdrop that went like “Why can’t Indians win more Olympic medals?”

Indeed the question is what people keep asking casually without giving various related factors a thought. But there are also people who explained in their answers as to why is it that India doesn’t fetch more medals.

One user pointed out a reason apart from the lack of infrastructure and importance attached to sports apart from Cricket in our country.


The user wrote, This is Manish Rawat(the one in blue, behind the Chinese athlete). He finished 13th in the 20 km walk event at Rio. This guy from Uttarakhand, works two part time jobs and when he started his career in this sport he used to get the pension money of his father, 1,500 INR (25$) to survive with his family. For every single athlete, countries like US, UK, China and Japan spends thousands of dollars. But here in India, when a guy practices the event on his own, without much help from the government, he is laughed at. 20 km walk might be a funny sight for many because of the posture an athlete has to walk in. But they don’t understand the posture is like that because the feet have to be planted on the ground. It is not a duck walk. When Manish practiced on the streets of India, he was laughed and mocked at. When athletes from most of the countries who have opened their medal account in Rio, were practicing on tracks with high end shoes, this guy from India started his practice on the streets and roads with normal running shoes.”

Another user pointed out the apathy and ignorance shown by some unfortunately prominent personalities including Vijay Goel who mistook Dutee Chand for Srabani Nanda and misspelled Dipa Karmakar’s name in another tweet.
And of course who can forget Shobha De’s remark!


The user said, “Nobody backs them up: Our sport Minister does not know the exact name of the ones who make us proud.”
“And the ones who don’t know about sports are commenting: Goal of Team India at the Olympics: Rio jao. Selfies lo. Khaali haath wapas aao. What a waste of money and opportunity.”


And not simply Cricket!


The user said, We need to be a sport enthusiatistic country, its not that all Indians train themselves for sports competition but everyone should play atleast one sport and need to be aware about it so that it will encourage the next generation. Recently to encourage this Milind Soman took a run from Ahmedabad to Mumbai (570+KMs) barefoot, his motive was to build a kind of sporty atmosphere where everyone is aware about being fit.”


This user is talking numbers, eh!

First India needs more investment and infrastructure to support sports culture in country. The Indian government spends US$181 million a year on sports and youth affairs; China has recently put an estimated US$3 billion into each Olympic team. Then there’s the “ineptitude” of India’s administrators running many sports bodies as personal fiefdoms, characterized by nepotism and corruption. On the other hand, as of 2012, Americans spend an additional $35 billion per year on sports-related merchandise, including football gear and golf balls. Men made 60.9 percent of these sports-related purchases, while women made 39.1 percent of the purchases. Of that, $8 billion is spent by Americans 16 and older on merchandise bearing sports logos. $400 billion is spent by Americans per year on sports-related gambling, although $300 billion of that amount comes from illegal and non-regulated gambling. So, India needs to be more competitive on spending first. This is not a Bollywood film where a super hero comes and wins all the golds for country, this needs to strategised.”

The user nailed it with this point. Because when even after winning medals and accolades for your country, you spend your life struggling to make ends meet by setting up small food stalls, then there is something horribly wrong!

Sita Sahu: Medal Winning Gol Gappa Seller
Sita Sahu: Medal Winning Gol Gappa Seller

Lack of alternate employment is also a responsible factor. In countries like China the state takes care of the athlete which is not the case in India. Though there are sports quota jobs available they constitute a very small percentage of the available positions and usually go to people who can play with money. Joining private organizations means that workload increases. If the job is not satisfactory you are easily replaceable in job market with so much unemployment.”

There is a string of problems plaguing the sports scenario in India. These players reach heights despite those obstacles. But it won’t hurt to give them what they have always deserved!

Finally, Congratulations Sakshi Malik! You are a definite ray of hope!

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Navneet Arora
Punjabi demeanor. Borderline introvert. Feminist. Amidst the hyperactive screamers, a patient listener. Big Bollywood Fan. Day-dreamer. Loves sexual innuendos. Budding Filmmaker. Sarcastic blogs are her thing. Follow her and you will know!



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