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Running alone, again… May 25, 2006

Posted by shamanth42 in Athletics, Shamanth.
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‘Yawn’ is my usual greeting to any talk of ‘aiming for medals in the next Olympics’. We’ve all thickened our skins to failure by now, we’re sufficiently immune to such talk to move on without bothering to pay too much attention.  

Given that cynicism has dragged us into such a morass of heck-nothing-we-do-is-going-to-matter-anyway apathy, it would have taken a rare self belief for Usha to stick her neck out and say her school is targeting an Olympic gold in 2012.  

Given how failures and neglect have fed off each other and worn down Indian athletics, your first impulse is to cry out and tell her: sit down, dear; quit dreaming, we really would prefer to fail silently by not trying rather than endure another heartbreak of wasted talent and effort. 

You think awhile and say, hey, wait up, this is something she can do. You notice that Infosys is accompanying her, and that somehow seems appropriate – both having traversed similar paths, albeit in different dimensions – both having ventured out on their own on largely untrodden roads, yet standing scrupulously apart from the rest of the system, both clear of any stains of politics or murk that you’d have thought were essential to success, both rare but unlikely symbols of middle-class pride to a nation groping for role models.  

But what really gives hope for Usha’s wards is that they are going to be fresh, young. They will carry no burdens of past failures. All they need think of is their race, their event – they haven’t to carry scars of battles for funding, against politics, against the system. Courage isn’t that hard to come by if you clear the way for it. It astounds you that past Indian athletes managed what they did, walking that lonely a path all by themselves. 

Of course, there’s still a long way to go, the ride has only begun, and you still cant help a sneaking feeling that we’re perhaps hoping for too much. But Usha's wards are at least traveling in the right direction(that that comes as a surprise tells you how much we’ve resigned ourselves to) – they will enjoy the journey, traverse newer roads, and hopefully give us occasional gifts by aspiring for what we never thought possible.