The saga of shame of the Indian Commonwealth Games continues as more and more shameful skeletons tumble out of the cupboard. And it only makes my heart cringe. More so because I believe that sports is literally one of the key routes to a healthy nation. From child health to adult health – both physical and mental – sports has a great role to play, especially in today’s day and time where children are getting addicted to videogames and to the internet. To me, personally, the Commonwealth Games event – good or bad – was in reality a great opportunity for India to develop the Indian sports scene. Instead, we found it a great opportunity to plunder more and more money. And that’s what forces me to take a look at how the Chinese used the Olympics as a great leap forward and how they have over years made sports a way of life.

Compared to the Indian games, the 2008 Beijing Olympics actually spoke volumes about China’s commitment to sports. Not only did China refurbish the entire host city to welcome the game and honour the sport at large, but it also set a new record in its medals’ tally. But what was most noteworthy was the leap that China has taken in sports over the years. This unprecedented transition in Chinese sports gets largely visible when one compares the first ever entry of the Chinese to Olympics, vis-à-vis the way they stole the show at the 2008 Olympics. In 1932, during the Los Angeles Olympics, the Chinese representation was just a lone athlete who represented 450 million Chinese and came back home empty handed. Their tryst with the first gold medal happened 52 years later, again in the same venue; and from there on, there was no turning back. And finally, in 2008, a nation which was considered an underdog in many events previously, shocked the world by topping the medals’ tally with 51 gold medals (a jump from 32 gold medals in 2004 Athens Olympics and 28 gold medals in 2000 Sydney Olympics); they were followed by the US which had just 36 gold medals! But then, this jump in the medal tally didn’t happen overnight.

China started preparing its athletes for this event even before they started their infrastructural development (unlike our preparation, where during the CWG, neither was the infrastructure ready, nor did the sportsmen have space and facilities for training). As soon as the nation won the bid for hosting the 2008 Olympics, the government announced its most ambitious sports plan called “Winning pride at the Olympics”, which defined the number of gold medals China could possibly win in different events – after analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of their athletes. The government laid down clear cut policies and strategies to target sports and the number of gold medals that China needed to win in every sports event! The country also launched Project 119 and Plan for Olympics Glory – something that is very unique and equally strategic. The project defined how China could win 119 gold medals (a figure that was later increased to 122) based on their performance in the 2000 Olympics (as the bid for 2008 was won by China in 2001). The flow of funds was never a constraint. During the Olympics, the sports budget was increased to $700 million (an increase by $300 million) along with building specialized sports infrastructure at the Qingdao City costing $30 million. Interestingly, all women sports events received huge funding and got special attention (this is rare even in the West). No wonder, China won 46 gold medals in the ladies’ events (including team and doubles) in the 2008 Olympics!      Read More....

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IIPM Proves Its Mettle Once Again....
27/3/2012 02:36:06 pm

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12/7/2012 05:49:08 pm

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