The Olympic Games have today become one of the sports events whose prestige is of such high level that every sports star desperately wishes to get the golden chance of competing there even if it is for once in his / her lifetime. Meanwhile, just like everything which is of high status, be it like getting admission in one of the eminent educational institutions or bagging one of the most well-paid coveted jobs, is difficult to acquire, similarly being able to represent a country in a sport in the Olympics is no mean feat and requires years of struggle and a list of some achievements in a sportsperson’s career. However, if one gets to win a medal in Olympics, then, forget about the joy of the winner, the citizens of a country to which the winner belongs erupts in loud cheers. The Olympic Games holds such a huge global reputation that getting a medal there means bringing name and fame to a country. The ability of a country to represent a contingent of players for different sports at the Olympic Games is also held as its tremendous achievement. For this reason, an Olympic participant is widely respected everywhere and what to say of a winner of the prestigious Games? The winner of an Olympic Games is forever held as a huge achiever in the eyes of the public and the level of respect he /she gains is top-notched in every corner of the world.
HISTORY OF OLYMPICS
According to written sources, the Olympic Games were first held in 776 BC in Olympia in Greece and a cook named Corobeus was the first official winner of the prestigious sports event. He had participated in the only single event of that time i.e. stade, a footrace of 192 metres. However, many historians are of the opinion that the Olympics had begun much before 776 BC but have no written records, unfortunately. It is considered that the Olympic Games were held in Olympia every four years between August 6 and September 19. To honour the Greek God Zeus, the Olympic festival was held at Olympia and it became a sacred event in Greece. Due to its conduction at Olympia, the religious sports event came to be known as the Olympics and its influence in Greek culture became so strong that a four year time period came to be termed as an Olympiad. After some years, the ancient Olympics witnessed the conduct of these sports- diaulos( a 400 metre race), dolichos ( a 1500 metre race), pentathlon ( a combination of five events: a foot race, a long jump, discus and javelin throws and a wrestling match), boxing, chariot racing, pankration ( a combination of boxing and wrestling). After the Romans conquered Greece, the grandeur of the Olympic Games declined. It is believed that Emperor Theodosius I ended the ancient Olympic Games in 393 AD after he banned pagan festivities.
The modern Olympics came into being after a French educator Pierre de Coubertin showed interest in reviving the traditional ancient Olympic Games as an international competition for major sports events. After visiting Olympia, Coubertin, who is also the creator of the Olympic rings, planned to hold the modern Olympics every four years. With the presentation of his idea before a meeting of the Union des Sports Athletiques in Paris in 1892, Coubertin got the approval he needed to implement his idea into action and accordingly he founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, which became the governing body of the modern Olympic Games. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. In the opening ceremony, King Georgios I and a crowd of 60,000 spectators welcomed 280 participants from 12 nations who had competed in 43 events.
INDIA AT THE OLYMPICS
After the beginning of the modern Olympics in 1896, it took India only four years to make its first Olympic debut. Norman Pritchard was the only single person who represented India at the 1900 Paris Olympics. With the bagging of two silver medals in the Men’s 200 metre sprint and 200 metre hurdles, Pritchard was able to start the debut of India at the Olympic Games on a winning note. The first multi-contingent of players that India had represented was in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics comprising only of five sports stars (three athletes and two wrestlers). The 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games was a significant turning point for India as the men’s hockey team led by the legendary Dhyan Chand bagged the first gold medal for the country. After gaining independence from the rule of British, India managed to send its largest contingent – 86 athletes across nine sports – for the 1948 London Olympics. Another memorable Olympic Game for India was the 1952 Helsinki Olympics where wrestler Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav became the first Indian to win an individual Olympic medal, a bronze. The 2000 Sydney Olympics saw India create history with Karnam Malleshwari becoming the first woman of the country to bag an Olympic medal. She won a bronze medal in the weightlifting 69kg women’s category. Former Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore not only managed to win a medal in shooting but became India’s first individual silver medallist in the 2004 Athens Olympics. The 2008 Beijing Olympics was another significant turning point for India as shooter Abhinav Bindra claimed the nation’s first individual gold medal in the 10 metre Air Rifle event.
SPORTS AS A CAREER IN INDIA
It is indeed quite a sad and true fact that cricket is the only sport that is the most sought after and highly glorified sport in India. Indian cricketers are very rich but players of other categories are not even paid quite well. However, with the passage of time, many sports are getting the well-recognized fame that they ought to deserve and many sports stars other than cricketers seem to be paid a handsome amount of money. To make India see a bright future in sports, the mentality that studies are more important than sports needs to be changed first. Children excelling in a particular sport ought to be given extensive training in it and made to participate in various competitions without pressuring them to choose between the two i.e. studies and sports. Moreover, job placements in both private and government sector needed to be provided to those sport stars who is capable of bagging medals in various national and international competitions.