24 July, 2021

Two Sides Of The Net

Why some sports attract champions from the poor, while others largely remain with the rich

Smash Hit
World No. 10 P.V. Sindhu stormed into the women’s badminton final with a 21-19, 21-10 win over world no. 6 Nozomi Okuhara of Japan
Photograph by Getty Images
Two Sides Of The Net

About 22 years ago, the sports ministry had organised a big do at ­Vigyan ­Bhavan in New Delhi to present cash awards to those who had won medals in international competitions in 1993. A booklet published by the ministry for the occasion, with the names and photos of the awardees, was a classic memento from the shambolic world of Indian sports officialdom. It spelt ‘sports’, in a cute lapse into Punjabi English, as ‘supports’. And long-distance runner Bah­adur Prasad’s certificate said the Asian Track and Field Meet was held in ‘Man­ali’, the hill resort in ­Himachal Pradesh, instead of Manila!

Not much has changed in the world of Indian sport and the meagre haul at the Rio Olympics reflects it. Despite the governm­ent’s casual attitude towards sports—look only at the three-paise per capita allocation in our Union budgets—winners like Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar continue to emerge from far-flung places where facilities are almost non-existent. (P.V. Sindhu is not exactly from a poor...

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