Like most Indians, I had no idea of what a Produnova was till a week ago, would never have been able to tell it from a Supernova or a Kournikova.
Now I know.
Thank you Dipa Karmakar. You are now a legend and an inspiration. That does not mean, we as a nation will remember you, of course we won’t, unless we have Farhan Akthar or Priyanka Chopra playing you in your biopic, with the script written by Shobha De or Chetan Bhagat, each of whom will then go on to make more money off your name than you will manage in a lifetime.
But thank you, because for those few seconds when you floated in the air, you inspired us, a nation with little culture of sports or physical exercise, at least compared to the world, to soar, before we came down to the bitching and backbiting and snarky people that we usually are.
Dipa Karmakar came forth. She did not win. Who cares?
Yes I have already heard that.
For one, the context matters. Being fourth in the cricket World Cup is not the same as being fourth in the football World Cup. Being fourth in the cricket World Cup in 2016 for India is not the same as being fourth in the cricket World Cup in 1975. And being fourth in a gymnastics women’s event is not the same as being fourth in many other events at the Olympics.
Sorry boss. Not all sports are created equal. Not even at the Olympics.
And here is the final kicker. A flat-footed girl, overcame the sexism and prejudices and the overall mismanagement and lack of infrastructure that characterizes all of our Olympics sports, and that too from a state which most Indians won’t be able to find on a map of their country, to shoot to 2nd on the roster after the sixth contestant, to settle to 4 finally, in gymnastics, and yes read that again gymnastics, is pretty legendary awesome.
But what about PT Usha? What about Milkha Singh? They came fourth in track and field, we are told, and only if they had come third, we would have been China in the Olympics. But no. It’s not they to blame for India’s wretched position in sports in the community of nations, those champions did what they could. It was the failure of their generations, and those that came after that, to take the spark they lit and turn it into a fire. Maybe the country doesn’t think Olympic sports was important enough. Maybe there were other priorities. But whatever the reasons be as to why India is where it is in world sports, to somehow use that to disparage the performance of an Usha or a Singh and now a Karmakar is Indian whining at its worst. No one cares for the struggles of these people for four years, or bother to tune in to National athletics events on TV or horror of horrors, attend an event in person and cheer for them, and then they wake up and expect medals, and if that isn’t a sense of false entitlement I don’t know what is.
So well done Dipa Karmakar. Well done.
I shall not forget.
[Picture: Indian Express]