2012: Troughs Outnumber Crests for Indian Sports

Poonam Mehra/New Delhi
2012: Troughs Outnumber Crests for Indian Sports
The unprecedented Olympic medal haul ended up being overshadowed by ugly turf wars which jeopardised the country's Olympic future even as it went from bad to worse on the cricket field where voids left by legends seemed too huge to fill in a largely depressing year for Indian sports.

The half a dozen medals clinched in London were supposed to drastically improve the sporting scene but once the felicitations had been done, it was back to the harsh reality for Indian sports where politics took precedence over sporting progress.

Unlike in Beijing four years ago, there was no gold to brag about this time but the two silver and four bronze medals in London was nonetheless a historic performance.

The silvers came through unassuming shooter Vijay Kumar and soft-spoken wrestler Sushil Kumar, who can safely be considered a living legend as it was his second Olympic medal after the bronze in Beijing. Sushil is the only individual Indian athlete to have such a feat under his belt.

The bronze medals were clinched by shooter Gagan Narang, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, shuttler Saina Nehwal and woman boxer M C Mary Kom. The six were expected to be the talk of the town for quite some while given that the cricketers were not exactly covering themselves in glory with repeated failures.

But as it turned out, India's sports administrators, who have unapologetically clung to their positions for decades, ensured that politics of sports remained the focal point.

Within months of the record medal haul came the country's suspension from the Olympic movement followed by dubious IOA elections that were held in defiance of the International Olympic Committee.

The bitter turf war that preceded the elections, which were eventually declared null and void by the IOC, was once again a grim reminder that most of India's Olympic success is individual hard work rather than any systemic progress.

The embarrassment did not stop at just being suspended from the Olympic movement because it hardly had any impact on the brazen Indian Olympic Association officials, who refused to vacate office and kept insisting "everything will fall in place" without explaining just how they planned to do it.

On to the cricket field and there was hardly anything to cheer about as the downfall that started last year with the Test whitewash against England continued this year too.

The Indians squared off against England again, this time on home turf in what was billed as a revenge series, and though it was not a whitewash, the result was once again plain embarrassment.

With some of the biggest superstars walking into the sunset of their glorious careers, 'Captain Cool' Mahendra Singh Dhoni suddenly seemed 'Captain Circumspect' while shepherding a side full of youngsters.

Amid the number of disappointing results outweighing the success stories, which were few and far between, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh hogged the limelight albeit for different reasons.

In March this year, Tendulkar completed a historic feat of 100 international centuries, when he reached the three-figure mark in an ODI against Bangladesh but within nine months, announced his retirement from the 50-over format, leaving a lot of questions unanswered.

In February this year, Yuvraj Singh was diagnosed with a rare germ-cell cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy sessions in the US before stunning one and all to make a comeback in international cricket within six months.

For Tendulkar, who has been worshipped for the past 23 years for for his delightful strokes, the 'timing' of his ODI retirement became a subject of debate as to what prompted the legend to take such a decision, especially with a high-profile series against Pakistan round the corner.
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