|Saturday, November 24, 2001||
IF one word could describe the sentiments of veteran sports personalities with regard to the present scenario of Indian sports that word would most probably be disillusion. This word aptly describes the sentiments of Kamaljit Kooner, the first Indian woman athlete to win a gold medal in an international competition.
Her memories are tinged with disappointment at the downslide of Indian sport . The former athlete who won a gold medal in the 400-metres event way back in the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games, speaks fondly about ‘the good old times’ when games were played for the sake of sports and not for any material gains.
"the athlete of yesteryear was an innocent, he had a one-track
mind. The Olympics was his Mecca and the greatest joy of his life was to
win a race no matter which and where, while the athlete of today is
quite cunning. He is street smart, he does not revere his guru; in fact
he keeps changing them and he wants tangible returns for every race he
"The government is doing more now for sportspersons than it ever did before, it is desperate to find a magic formula to produce champions. There are so many seminars being held, so much debate on various issues but still we do not figure anywhere in international sports," says Kamaljit. According to her the reason for this is a lack of sincerity and rampant corruption in the field. Sports, she complains, has been politicised and the recent controversy surrounding the Arjuna Award proves that. "I think Milkha did the right thing", she says.
The holding of the National Games in Punjab evokes a mixed response from the veteran athlete. "People say the state will benefit but it is not very clear to me how it will. The infrastructure has come up but its maintenance is the key issue. Infrastructure is installed but is not maintained thereafter. Imported equipment lies around, rotting."
The Indian sports scenario will indeed
remain bleak unless we manage to motivate players to play for the sake
of sports alone. The players will have to aspire for excellence rather
than material gains. "Unless the Indian sportspersons make a
sincere effort to rediscover sports, we have little to feel good
about" sums up the athlete. — GK