This Olympics, we mean business

On the eve of London Olympics 2012, India is talking about how many medals it will bring back. There is optimism in the air, symbolised by the megastar Amitabh Bachchan carrying the Olympic flame, despite his age constraints. Indian contingent to the games this time is likely to bring a record number of medals in disciplines ranging from boxing to badminton and other sports. Despite all the controversies that may have gone into its preparation, India is well poised to create national history in the international sporting event.

As India clinched an unprecedented three individual medals last time, including Abhinav Bindra's historic gold, the nation woke up to a new dawn, refusing to play second fiddle to USA, China and other global giants.

Despite having abundance of talent, Indian sportspersons lacked self-belief that they could emerge winners even at the highest level. However, this concept, like many other aspects of Indian society, is undergoing a refreshing change to raise expectations levels like never before.

It all started at 1996 Atlanta Games when Leander Paes won the bronze to hand India its first individual medal in 44 years after K D Jadhav won a bronze in wrestling at Helsinki (1952). Four years later in Sydney, Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to bag a medal. Double-trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the sole Indian medal (silver) in 2004 Athens Olympics while Abhinav Bindra (gold), Vijender Singh (bronze) and Sushil Kumar (bronze) swelled the tally to three in 2008 games. The Beijing Games changed the face of sports just like World Cup victory in 1983 altered the way cricket was perceived in India.

It became apparent that the best way to promote sports was through proper public-private participation. Corporate houses in India have now started promoting disciplines other than cricket with top industries becoming willing to pump in money in different fields. All these efforts have now started yielding desired results as India challenge other giants with a 81-member strong contingent.

Bejing heroes Abhinav, Vijender and Sushil will once again lead India's quest for Olympic glory while shooters Ronjan Sodhi and Gagan Narang, shuttler Saina Nehwal, woman pugilist Mary Kom, and archer Deepika Kumari are being touted as the other medal contenders.

Indian sportspersons don't believe any more in the notion that only participation matters.
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