Today I want to speak about our new sporting heroes who are gearing up to take part in the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23, but before that I want to share a piece of sad news. Former cricketer Yashpal Sharma, who was part of the 1983 World Cup winning Indian team, passed away on Tuesday after a sudden heart attack.
A courageous batsman, Yashpal Sharma, for several years, was the cricket expert on India TV news channel. I was shocked more so because Yashpal used to take care of his fitness. He used to go on cycling every morning with friends, jogged and shed sweat in gymnasium. He was very careful about his diet and used to keep walnuts in his pockets. He never fell ill nor had any bouts of cough and cold.
While returning from morning walk on Tuesday, he suddenly felt uneasy minutes before he had his stroke. A great cricketer, he played 37 Test matches, made 1,606 runs, played 42 Odis and made 883 runs. He was very polite towards everybody. His swashbuckling half century against England during the 1983 World Cup will forever remain etched in memory. Political leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top sportspersons expressed grief over his death. On behalf of India TV, I express my deep condolence to his family members.
Now the good news: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a lively and hilarious chat with top Indian athletes preparing for the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday. Modi said, “Our bold, confident and positive athletes reflect the aspirations of New India”. During the virtual session, the PM interacted with archers Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, sprinter Dutee Chand, boxers Ashish Kumar and M. C. Mary Kom, badminton player P V Sindhu, shooter E. Valarivan, shooter Saurabh Chaudhary, table tennis player Manika Batra, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, swimmer Sajan Prakash, hockey player Manpreet Singh and tennis star Sania Mirza, along with their family members.
Modi praised the “discipline, dedication and determination” of the athletes and said they symbolized India’s promising sporting future. He regretted that he could not host the athletes, as he used to do in the past, due to the ongoing pandemic. Modi said, the blessings of 135 crore Indians are with our athletes going to Tokyo Olympics. India is sending its largest contingent of 126 athletes who will take part in 18 disciplines. In a light banter mood, Modi asked Mary Kom which was her favourite punch in boxing.
Prime Minister Modi has a dream: he wants India to host the Olympic Games, preferably in 2036. Already Modi has set in motion preparations for building world class infrastructure to host the Olympics in Ahmedabad. Our correspondent Nirnay Kapoor has reported that sporting facilities, training facilities and non-sporting facilities are three areas on which work has already begun in Ahmedabad.
Some people may ask: Why Ahmedabad? Why not other metros in India? Well, Ahmedabad presently boasts of some world class sporting facilities, like the world’s largest seating stadium at Motera and Sardar Patel Sporting Complex that can provide facilities for at least 20 indoor and outdoor sports. A Rs 600 crore Sports Complex is coming up in Narayanpura.
A sports village is coming up at the Sardar Patel Sporting Complex which will have more than 3,000 apartments with 2 to 4 BHK size. It can house more than 12,500 guests at a time. Many of these apartments will have river front view, and the village complex will also have retail and entertainment space and hotels. There will be parking space for 7,500 car and 15,000 two-wheelers. These apartments will provide the best liveable space for buyers after the games are over.
The bidding for 2036 Olympics will begin from 2026. Since there is hardly five years left, construction and design work is going on a war footing. There is no denying the fact that many of our metros in India lack world class sports infrastructure. During the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, many sports facilities came up in the national capital, our athletes got good exposure to training facilities and grounds. Because of consistent training at new sports facilities, today we can hope for our athletes to win medals in Olympics.
Modi thinks ahead of others. He not only wants our athletes to win Olympic medals, but dreams of India hosting the Olympics for the first time in history, so that India can carve its own niche in the sporting world in the decades to come. That is why Modi on Wednesday during his interaction pointed out to several athletes who hail for poor or middle class families but have earned fame for themselves, and of course, India.
Even today, athletes have to go to foreign countries to acquire better quality training, as no such training facilities are available in India. Many of our poor and middle class athletes cannot afford money even for foreign travel, leave alone training in foreign countries. If India hosts the Olympics by creating world class facilities, these can be the bases to launch our budding sportspersons hailing from poor and tribal backgrounds, by providing them proper diet, quality training and excellent support systems.
Until and unless our athletes win gold medals in Olympics and world championships, they cannot evolve as youth icons, and much as we may try, advertisers may not spend money on these players. Reaching up to the level of USA or China in sports may take a long time. If Olympic Games are held in India in 2036, I am sure, we can go high up in the medals tally.
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India's Number One and the most followed Super Prime Time News Show 'Aaj Ki Baat – Rajat Sharma Ke Saath' was launched just before the 2014 General Elections. Since its inception, the show is redefining India's super-prime time and is numerically far ahead of its contemporaries.