The Great Indian Dream

For years, putting up a good show at the biggest sporting event in the world has been a dream for my country. Yes, the Olympics. India, a country with more than a billion people, has always dreamed in technicolor when it came to the Olympics.

This great dream started in 1928 when the indomitable Indian hockey team won its first Gold medal at the Olympics. What followed was a 6 gold medals in a row, the Indian team was undefeated until 1956! In doing so, the Indian team became the nation to win the most Golds for Hockey at the Olympics. A feat unparalleled. No team has ever come close to the dream that was the Indian Hockey team of the yesteryears. Dhyan Chand and his boys reserved a place for themselves on the golden pages of the sport.

Another phenomenal achievement happened during the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Abhinav Bindra won the Gold for the 10m Air Rifle shooting event, giving India its first individual Gold at the Olympics. What a moment that was! A billion dreams came true at the same time. India could now proudly boast of an individual achievement at the Olympics.

abhinav bindra

While Abhinav Bindra’s win was amazing, something heartbreaking had happened at the same Olympics. It was the first time since 1928 that the Indian hockey team had failed to qualify for the Olympics. It was a terrible, disheartening moment for people associated with the sport, who had seen India virtually destroy any and every competition that it ever had. Scarred with politics and shoddy management, the players were let down horribly.

But this year, the Hockey team is back with a bang. After an amazing performance at the London Olympics qualifiers, where they stood first, and a good performance at the Azlan Shah Cup, the Indian team is going from strength. Lead by a new coach Michael Nobbs, the team has never looked better. Nobbs has blended the European style of hockey well with the crafty hockey that our players play. This year, Michael Nobbs and many many Indians expect a podium finish from the Hockey team because of the simple fact that it is possible 🙂

The Indian hockey team holds aloft their trophy at the victory podium after winning the men's field hockey match between India and France for the final position of the FIH London 2012 Olympic Hockey qualifying tournament at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on February 26, 2012.

(The Indian Hockey team after winning the London Olympic Qualifiers)

The other sport that has everyone excited is Women’s Boxing. This is the first time that this sport has been included in the Olympics lineup and what makes it even more exciting is the presence of one name on that final qualifying list, MC Mary Kom. Considered by many to be one of the finest female boxers in the world, Mary Kom is all set to win the first Olympic Gold for the 51-kg Female Boxing event.

India's boxer MC Mary Kom punches a bag during a training session at Balewadi Stadium in Pune, about 190 km (118 miles) from Mumbai, March 12, 2012. Mary Kom was the face of the campaign to get women's boxing into the Olympics and the Indian mother of two will be competing at the world championships in China in May aiming to book her spot at the London Games in the 51kg category. Picture taken March 12, 2012.

(MC Mary Kom trains for the Olympics)

The woman power at the Olympics this time is being upped seriously by the participation and qualification of Saina Nehwal, India’s top ranked female badminton player and currently ranked World No.5. After a quarterfinal defeat in her debut Olympics at Beijing last year, Saina is raring for a comeback and fulfil her dream of an Olympic medal. She faces a tough draw at the Olympics but she has trained hard and won two major titles in the last couple of months, displaying excellent form.

Saina Nehwal practices during a training session for the badminton competition of the 2012 Summer Olympics, on July 25, 2012, in London.
(Saina Nehwal practices during a training session of the London Olympics)
Apart from these three personal favorites,
there are many wonderful athletes representing India, I wish them all the best!