Against the backdrop of falling bridges and filthy rooms at the Commonwealth Games facility in Delhi, new world wrestling champion Sushil Kumar was asked in Mumbai this week for his opinion on the subject. His answer was probably representative of the athletic community in India: “My concern is not administrative. I am focused on my performance and am happy that we would finally have world-class facilities at home.”
Kumar added, “We already have the performers, now we will get the facilities too, so we can compete with the best.”
Over the last several months, accompanying the increasing embarrassment of the Commonwealth Games has been a series of special individual performances across sports, partly what Kumar was referring to. Indeed, there are more Indians at the top of their game now than probably ever before.
On a roll: Rohan Bopanna’s three great weeks include a final appearance in the US Open doubles and leading India to a win over Brazil in the Davis Cup in Chennai. AP
Besides Kumar, who became the first Indian to win a gold medal at the senior World Wrestling Championship in the 66kg freestyle category in Moscow earlier this month, M.C. Mary Kom won her fifth consecutive boxing world title, this time in the 48kg category, in Barbados last week; Viswanathan Anand became the world chess champion for the third time at Sofia, Bulgaria, in May; Tejaswini Sawant won a gold medal in the 50m rifle prone event at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship in Munich in August, equalling the world record; and a men’s recurve team of Jayanta Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Rahul Banerjee won a gold medal at the Archery World Cup in Shanghai earlier this month.
In addition, Arjun Atwal became the first Indian golfer to win on the US PGA Tour with the Wyndham Championship in August, while Rohan Bopanna entered a Grand Slam doubles final at the US Open with Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi—the third Indian male to do so—and returned to promptly lead India into the Davis Cup World Group with a 3-2 win over Brazil in Chennai earlier this week. Saina Nehwal, now world No. 3, won three Super Series titles this year and is the most successful upcoming athlete in the country.
The slew of medals that India is expected to win in the mediocre level of competition at the Commonwealth Games will only be the icing on the cake.
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