Sports Day report card: Bumper year for India, A+ for athletes, F- for federations

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A few days before the National Sports Day on August 24, 2023, Indian sports news lined up to describe the state of affairs quite accurately.

Wisdom on the one hand Won an important silver medal At the World Chess Championship – the youngest finalist at the age of 18 and the first Indian to reach the podium since Viswanathan Anand in 2002 – after pushing Magnus Carlsen to a tiebreak.

On the other hand, the Wrestling Federation of India was suspended Due to not organizing the election on time, sports organization Dr. This was due to many legal delays, even as former Brij chief Bhushan Sharan Singh, who was sacked for sexual harassment by India’s top wrestlers, is out on bail.

Another day for Indian sports followers – a spectrum of highs and lows. A reminder that for every trophy, every new record set and every major medal won worldwide, a federation suspension and court-appointed committee are required to enforce the National Sports Code on administrators. For every champion who flies the tricolor high, there are stories of misbehaving athletes.

Neeraj Chopra is one of us, but he is also the best of us

Since the last National Sports Day, sandwiched between the success of India’s Commonwealth Games 2022 and the upcoming Asian Games, Indian sports fans have a lot to celebrate.

Last week, alongside Pragyanandha, Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra First Indian World Champion in Athletics, completing his set of major gold medals at 25 The Indian men’s relay team stunned Great Britain to reach the World Championship final with a sub-3 minute run HS Prannoy won First major individual medal of his career – A bronze at the Badminton World Championships – at the age of 31, beating Viktor Axelsen, the best player of this generation.

This is also the spectrum of Indian sports.

Indian men’s football team Pick up three trophiesWith Sunil Chhetri’s countdown to 100 international goals Becoming a talking point beyond just football circles.

Men’s doubles stars Satviksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lead India to Asian title First Super 1000 title, within touching distance of the world number one ranking. Four Indian world champions in women’s boxing, along with Nikhat Zarin Defend his crown at home. Four of the eight FIDE World Cup quarter-finalists were Indians, an expected rise of young grandmasters taking center stage globally.

Antim Pangal is defending her U-20 world champion title, the first Indian woman after weeks of physical and emotional pain at the Asian Games trial and a court case over her non-selection. Sania Mirza, playing her last Grand Slam, reached the Australian Open final with fellow Indian Rohan Bopanna. The 43-year-old Bopanna then became the oldest player to win the ATP Masters with a doubles title in a very successful year in Indian Wells.

Sania Mirza: The girl who fought for what was right

Jyoti Chauhan and Manisha Kalyan Playing in the European Football LeagueA new hope for women’s football. Compound archers break new ground – India’s first world champion in the sport; Three gold medals, a 17-year-old Aditi Swami. New names at the Shooting World Championships, more teenage medalists and Olympic quota places.

But all these successes cannot hide the disappointment of athletes in various ways. Any look back to 2023 will predominately feature disturbing images of India’s top wrestlers, Olympic and World Championship medalists, sitting in protest, being assaulted by the police and crying on the banks of the Ganges.

Wrestlers’ protests began in January, fueled by promises of an investigation that yielded nothing, resumed with renewed vigor in April and Finished with the charge sheet Against a powerful figure in both sports and political authority. The fact that the athletes’ voices made a difference was considered a victory but the inaction of other sports bodies (read the Indian Olympic Association and its ad-hoc committee) turned the situation into chaos.

Wrestling was also not the first unsolved case of sexual misconduct at the top level of Indian sports in the recent past. Assistant coach of Indian women’s under 17 football team last year was fired and an investigation was due. There is no specific update about it till now.

Meanwhile, other Indian women footballers in the Indian Women’s League Played in horrible conditionsEven setting conflicting plans and roadmaps for their future.

And while we were celebrating the compound archers’ historic medal, we were wary of their precarious situation. Asked what changes the sport needs, India’s most successful compound archer Jyoti Surekha Vennam said: “Because compound archery is not included in the Olympics, we don’t get any support. Olympic athletes get a lot of support. Be it from a private organization or some other, but we I don’t.”

Medals and trophies shouldn’t hide the clutter, rather they shine a light on it.

As the profile of Indian sports continues to rise with every new achievement and debut, support systems for these athletes are a must. Be it financial like a compound archery, judicial protection like football and wrestling sexual harassment cases or good old fandom from a regular Indian citizen.

Hopefully one day, in the near future, one can say simple things like an Indian sportsperson succeeding with the system or an athlete feeling safe in a male-dominated environment. In the first year for Indian sports, this should not be expected.

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