INDIA: With the Olympic Games starting in Beijing in a few days, a billion hopes are pinned on India to bring back a medal or two.
But experts believe the real chances of India winning a gold are next to none.
India has never won a gold medal at the Olympics apart from Hockey – and that was some 28 years ago.
With the present Hockey team failing to qualify for the Olympics, further doubts have been cast over the country’s overall performance at the Beijing Games.
India has sent just 57 athletes to compete in 28 sports.
The only sport where India stands a chance of a medal is shooting.
India, having won a silver medal in the men’s double trap shooting event in the last Olympics, is fielding nine shooters in Beijing this year.
Said Anjali Bhagwat, a rifle shooter: “I am quite excited and am very happy that my training is going well and my scores are very consistent in the test matches.
“I am eager to go into Olympic arena and watch all the good athletes over there and get motivated and shoot my competition.”
But the prominent deterioration of India’s national sport Hockey has raised questions over the dismal state of sports in India.
The biggest hurdle is a lack of a professional approach to sports.
The country has no dearth of talent, but turning it around into medals requires a dedicated training staff and infrastructural support.
Indian boxers, being billed as the best of the lot, had to be sent to Germany to train.
The five-member team of Indian pugilists is confident of its preparations and said it is on the brink of a major breakthrough.
“There is only one feeling in the heart that has been driving us for so long,” said Vijender, a middleweight boxer.
“Our training has been good and we hope that we will be able to fulfil our dream of winning a medal in the Beijing Olympics.”
Archery and tennis are other sports which India is somewhat confident of doing well.
India’s Olympic contingent is hoping to turn around the gold medal drought this year.
Channel News Asia