By Somali K Chakrabarti
“You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.“
This is one of the most popular quotes of Swami Vivekananda. A healthy mind resides in healthy body and football or for that matter athletics are good sports to keep oneself fit.
Yet, athletics has received very little support and attention in India, both in terms of budget, and media coverage, which in turn has resulted in the lack of quality training and career prospects for the athletes.
Hence, it is not very surprising that the number of world class athletes from India has by far been very few as compared to other countries.
A few facts indicative of the state of Indian athletics:
India had first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900, with a lone athlete Norman Pritchard winning two silver medals in athletics. But, it was not before 1920 that India started sending its national team to compete at the Olympics.
Since then, the total number of medals won by India athletes in Olympics till date remains 26, a abysmally low number for a country with 1.3 billion population. With a history in athletics dating back to the Vedic period, the situation certainly deserves to be better.
The recent selection of Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian Gymnast to qualify for Olympics has given impetus to our hopes.