Just recently, I happened to read a quote on a social networking site — Your attitude is like a price tag, it shows how valuable you are. Today, when I compare India and China, not just on the borders, but in international sporting arenas like the ongoing Incheon Games, the saying rings so true.
Dipika Pallikal, who secured for us our maiden women’s singles squash medal, continues to be agitated over what she claims is a ‘manipulated draw’, whereby she was pitted against her doubles partner, Joshana Chinappa. Though she defeated Chinappa in a well-fought battle, she was perturbed by the fact that while she opposed the draw, the officials back home kept mum.
Pallikal, who has the option of appealing to the ad hoc division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) set up at the Incheon Games, has promised to take up the matter again upon coming back home. Now, since she has added to India’s medal tally, the officials back home may even give her a patient hearing. Had the authorities taken up the matter strongly and backed her earlier, we would have had twice as much reason to rejoice, with another medal in the same discipline.
China, on the other hand, had nearly missed out on both the gold medal and the world record when one of the team members was disqualified for shooting with a heavier rifle in the qualification round.
Following a heated appeal by the Chinese authorities, she was eventually allowed to compete. Who would not attempt to give their best shot after receiving such solid support from home? These girls went from strength to strength and for the gold.
Organisers declined to reveal reasons for the U-turn by the jury, but one shooting official said the disqualification might have been due to a technical error. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the Chinese officials stood by their athletes when the latter needed them on their side the most. Here, we must raise a toast to our athletes, who, despite not being the recipients of such support from their home turf, continue to give India a podium finish.
One must keep in mind that such events are once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some athletes who make their mark and abruptly vanish from the scene. Have we ever wondered why we never ever see them again? And why those who continue to represent our country from time to time do not even get a hearing when they raise an issue? We have a long way to go before the Games end, but very little time in which to change our attitude. If China can do it, we certainly can. It’s time to get little aggressive.
(The writer is News Editor, The Free Press Journal, heading the Sports Desk)