India’s long jump in sports – Asian Games and beyond

69 – India’s shimmering tally at the 2018 Asian Games

31 – Number of medallists who were aged 21 years or younger

Sports in India has never seen such youthful exuberance. The emergence of young athletes has certainly been the highlight of this year’s Asian Games. So was the country’s backing and support. From constant media highlights to Twitter updates from the sports ministry, every win was celebrated with much gusto. Even PM Modi weighed in with his congratulatory messages every now and then.

The interest and buzz around sporting events these days is unlike anything we have seen before. To understand this changing trend, Piplsay reached out to people across the country to get their views on our recent sporting successes. The 30,000 enthusiastic responses we got reveals a new found sporting culture that we badly lacked.

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While Cricket, Tennis, Football etc continue to remain popular, other sports like athletics, shooting etc have also slowly started gaining recognition

The fact that 7 out of 10 people knew about India’s wins in newly introduced sports at the Asian Games underlines the growing interest and awareness

The impressive performance of the Indian contingent this year, first at the Commonwealth Games and then the Asian Games, has raised a lot of hopes for future events. All eyes are now set on the 2020 Olympics, which is the big daddy of the sporting world. Even though our country’s medal count is quite small compared to some of its other counterparts, the fact that it is steadily climbing up seems to be a good enough reason to celebrate.

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So what really is changing? While corporate-backed sports leagues can be rightly credited for pulling in the audiences, government initiatives like Khelo India seem to be working brilliantly as well. The initiative with its ‘Catch them Young’ motto is helping build a sports culture right at the school level. Several winners emerging from the Khelo India school games have gone ahead to win medals at International events including the Asian Games. Besides nurturing top talents the sports ministry is also proactively tapping into the grassroots to find potential talents.

The fact that a majority of the people now believe that change is coming from the upper echelon is a big positive in itself. It should also come as a huge boost to sporting bodies who for long have been blamed for the sorry state of affairs of sports in the country.

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High Jump to success

Good infrastructure and facilities remain a critical factor for sporting excellence for a majority of our respondents. And quite rightly so, as one cannot expect to produce world-class athletes without world-class resources. Equally important is a conducive environment which caters to their physical, mental and emotional well being.

Yet, even today we have countless sportspersons who continue to achieve success despite the lack of it all.

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Lack of recognition and support is another big challenge especially since a lot of our sportspersons comes from economically weaker background. The story of  Sepaktakraw player Harish Kumar is the latest in line. The youngster who helped the country win a Bronze at the Asian Games was back to selling tea at his father’s stall upon his return. While some like Harish persevere despite the odds, many like Sita Sahu are forced to opt out. An Olympic double medallist she was once forced to give up her dreams and sell chaat for a living.

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The country can also continue to benefit from its former champions, who having being in the game are better placed to train and mentor budding athletes. Importantly, coaching will also give them a career option and a chance to live a dignified life once their glory days come to an end.

The Piplsay survey clearly shows that Indians have begun to take sports seriously; the renewed interest and support even establishing it as a viable career. This is just the beginning but times are clearly changing for the country’s sporting world…We are jumping past the barriers, one hurdle at a time, helping our sporting maestros to conquer and shine.

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