A qualitative jump

Sharing their joy...London Olympics silver medallists, wrestler Sushil Kumar (left) and shooter Vijay Kumar (centre), with M. C. Mary Kom, who won the bronze in women's boxing, during a felicitation function at the Sports Authority of India in New Delhi.-AP Sharing their joy...London Olympics silver medallists, wrestler Sushil Kumar (left) and shooter Vijay Kumar (centre), with M. C. Mary Kom, who won the bronze in women's boxing, during a felicitation function at the Sports Authority of India in New Delhi.

India has, without doubt, passed the Olympic test with distinction, writes Kamesh Srinivasan.

Success has to be acknowledged first before more success can be achieved.

It is one thing to say that India was not among the 54 nations that won at least a gold medal, but it is quite another to say that India was the leader among nations that did not win a gold medal. With two silver and four bronze medals — two of them from the women’s competitions — India did make progress in the London Games.

The good thing about not winning a gold medal is that the silver and bronze medallists are being honoured, which should inspire a generation of sportspersons to excel in the Olympics.

Having won only seven individual medals before the 2012 Olympics — one gold (Abhinav Bindra), one silver (Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore) and five bronze (Vijender Singh, Sushil Kumar, Karnam Malleswari, Leander Paes and K. D. Jadhav) — India did make a qualitative jump by winning two silver and four bronze medals in London.

Shooter Vijay Kumar (silver medal in rapid fire) and wrestler Sushil Kumar could have easily struck gold with a little bit of luck.

Double trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi had consistently beaten the best in the world on way to winning gold medals in the Asian Games and World Cup Finals, apart from the World Cups. He had shot world records, but lost focus a little bit in London as he missed four of the last six birds and thus failed to qualify for the final by three points.

For the third successive time, trap shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu, a former World champion, has found the Olympics a mystery. From 116 in the last two Games, he moved ahead to 119 out of 125. If he retains his hunger, he can strike gold.

Shooting is tough. Take the case of the two-time Olympic champion Michael Diamond of Australia who finished fourth for the second time after Beijing despite shooting a perfect world record 125 in qualification.

World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra was capable of getting among the medals again but a bad last series of 97 put paid to his hopes. Joydeep Karmakar finished fourth in men’s rifle prone despite being a rank outsider.

Gagan Narang was capable of winning the gold and was just 0.3 point away in the gripping final after six shots, but he lost his way a bit and had to settle for the bronze.

Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan too showed a lot of promise after their gold medal wins in the Asian Games. Besides Vijender and Vikas had also won bronze medals in the World Championships — the former in 2009 in Milan and the latter in 2011 in Baku. However, the Beijing Olympics bronze medallist found in former World champion Abbos Atoev (Uzbekistan) a better opponent in the quarterfinals. Vikas, on the other hand, suffered the misfortune of having his victory turned to defeat on review by the jury.

Indian boxing took some punches on its face, but retained its pride thanks to the five-time World champion Mary Kom, who won a bronze medal despite punching above her weight and being past her prime. Her medal should inspire the whole country, the women in particular.

Yogeshwar Dutt (red) has Ri Jong Myong of North Korea in a bind in the men’s 60 kg freestyle bout for the bronze medal in the London Olympics.-PTI

With Yogeshwar Dutt (bronze) and Sushil Kumar (silver) winning medals, Indian wrestling presented a healthy image.

Like the boxers, the Indian tennis players failed to live up to the expectations. Despite putting aside all the frictions and heartburns in the run-up to the Games and playing a world-class game, the Indian contingent was unlucky to finish without a medal. Leander Paes and Sania Mirza lost to the eventual gold medallists, while Paes and Vishnu Vardhan lost to the eventual silver medallists. Bhupathi and Bopanna lost to the eventual bronze medallists.

Saina Nehwal has been a dominant force in the world women’s badminton. She richly deserved the bronze medal though she was a bit fortunate. The Chinese were definitely far superior and it will be unfair to say that the Hyderabad girl in her second Olympics had under-achieved.

Tintu Luka needed to strike a personal best in a classy field in the women’s 800 metres, which is a very tactical race. Krishna Poonia and Vikas Gowda did well to place seventh and eighth in the women’s and men’s discus throw respectively, but they were capable of doing better.

The Indian archers were the biggest disappointment. The women were a dominant force on the world stage with Deepika Kumari, 18, ranked No. 1, but they failed to win a single medal. It is clear that Indian archery needs Korean coaches on a 24x7 basis.

It was great that the 81-member squad returned with six medals, but India definitely deserved to win at least one gold.

However, there is no doubt that the nation passed the Olympic test with distinction.