Commonwealth Games is more nostalgia, less sportsSeptember 28th, 2010 - 12:50 pm ICT by IANS
By Anand Philar
New Delhi, Sep 28 (IANS) If anything, the Commonwealth Games provide a lingering aroma of the British empire that in these modern times only evokes nostalgia and little else of note. The Games have evolved from the British Empire Games, first held in 1930 at Hamilton in Canada, to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games (1954), the British Commonwealth Games (1970) to the present Commonwealth Games (1978).
The event has grown in size too, from 11 countries, 400 sportspersons and six sports to 71 nations and territories, 7,000 participants and 17 disciplines at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games Oct 3-14.
The change in nomenclature also reflects the gradual break-up of the British empire as erstwhile colonies, including India, gained independence.
The last vestiges of the British Raj, as Indians refer to the pre-independence period, still remain to keep the Commonwealth Games fire burning, although top sportspersons tend to give a thumbs down to the quadrennial event.
From India’s perspective, the Commonwealth Games present an excellent opportunity to score some points and medals at the international level, though overall, the collective performance has been far from satisfactory.
India’s haul of 270 medals (102 gold, 97 silver, 71 bronze) pales into insignificance compared to those of the front-runners. Australia’s tally is a whopping 1,894 medals including 728 gold, 615 silver and 551 bronze to England’s 1,693 (576-552-565).
India’s tally is less than 50 percent of Australia’s bronze medal haul.
Only in the last decade have the Indians begun to make a mark. They picked up 69 medals (30-22-17) in 2002 (Manchester) and 48 (22-17-9) in 2006 (Melbourne).
Of the 102 gold that Indians have won so far, 35 have been in shooting, 33 in weightlifting and 23 in wrestling, while the only success in the showpiece athletics event was by the legendary Milkha Singh in 1958 at Cardiff when he won the 440-yard (quarter-mile) dash clocking 46.6 seconds.
Incidentally, India’s performance in the hockey competition that was introduced in 1998 has been dismal. The women’s team, though, fared better with a gold in 2002 and a silver in 2006 while the men finished fourth in 1998 and sixth in 2006.
With the top stars opting to stay away more often than not, the image of the Commonwealth Games as one of premier global sporting events has lost its lustre though the authorities would like to us to believe otherwise.
This time around, the timing of the Games, near the end of the international sporting season and just weeks prior to the Asian Games in China in November, besides the security concerns and the threat of dengue following unprecedented rains, has left the fields depleted in the wake of pull-outs by high-profile sportspersons.
While the situation is tailor-made for Indians to hog the limelight, it will take a lot more to convince the discerning that performance in the Commonwealth Games is any yardstick at all to measure India’s sporting progress.
(Anand Philar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: british commonwealth, british empire, british raj, bronze medal, collective performance, commonwealth games, empire games, front runners, independence period, insignificance, last decade, medal haul, milkha singh, nomenclature, pales, quadrennial event, quarter mile, showpiece, vestiges, weightlifting