Until yesterday, the Indians did not give a hoot about the Olympics. Aside from Cricket, India is not a sporting nation and since cricket last made an appearance in the Olympics over a hundred years ago, you can put two and two together.
Then some guy won a gold medal in one of the air rifle competitions.
Winning a gold at shooting is not exactly Michael Phelps, but the important thing was that for the first time ever, an Indian won gold in the Olympics. The place went nuts. Okay, perhaps not the kind of nuts that Germany erupted into when their team made the final of the last world cup, but at least the papers had something better to talk about than the usual fare of corruption and riots. The papers all put him on the front page, with multipage spreads, over multiple days. Like the Germans in 2006, they seem to have crossed a physiological divide; only instead of deciding that it might actually be okay waving flags (a hang-up that Indians are in no danger of), they have decided that Indians can indeed be sportsmen. Expect more Indian gold in the coming decades. India has participated in the Olympics. India has now won gold in the Olympics. When will India host the Olympics?
Interestingly enough, a human interest news story about “the shooting guy” (my term. his name is Abhinav Bindra) was a real eye opener for me.
Silent killer, as described by his father, he is the one who spotted his son’s talent when Abhinav was 5 years old. “He kept a water balloon on our maid’s head and began shooting, knowing little that a slight mistake could have proved fatal. But his aim was so perfect that I couldn’t think about anything else but make him a pro,” says AS Bindra.
Anyone want a job as a maid?