MUMBAI: A nuanced approach dictates that expectations must be judged against reality when it comes to what can potentially be achieved at the Olympics. Especially when a bunch of Indian athletes, across sports, have over a billion hopes riding on them.
Three of India’s most celebrated sportswomen of all time – Aparna Popat, Ashwini Nachappa and Anju Bobby George – feel there could be a mismatch between what the reality is, and what we begin to expect. The three were guests on the TOI Sportscast podcast recently.
“Why the expectations really come up is because every day, you know, you open the newspaper, and you say, Indian athletes are doing really well, like you’re seeing some athlete win a tournament here, or you know, a medal there. And we sort of celebrate it in isolation. But we’re not really mapping it in terms of what it means to an Olympic standard. Or we’re not mapping it as to you know, how, you know, what the field was like, at that particular event, or at that particular tournament. So a gold, where, you know, the top, say, eight are not participating, and you get a gold, does not mean it’s a gold in the Olympics, because you’re not then comparing it to the Olympic standard. So I think somewhere to check expectations, it’s important that we even look at these considerations,” Popat told Times of India’s podcast Sportscast.
“I second that,” adds Ashwini. “I think that narrative is very important. How we inform the public is very important, who informs is very important. It should be laid out, you know, otherwise, you’re going to be creating this kind of situation where everybody thinks the Olympics is, you know, you can get 10, 12, 15 medals. It’s not running on the street. It takes a lot of effort. The journey for each one (athlete) is enormous. Each one is different. ” Ashwini Nachappa said on TOI Sportscast.
“The Olympics Actually, it’s a different scenario. And the competition is very high and all the top athletes are coming for that competition. In athletics, I got a world championship medal (bronze in Paris 2003). In athletics, there is no difference between World Championships and Olympics – competition wise. But when I went to the Olympics, it was entirely different. Because all (athletes) are getting ready for that, the entire world is getting ready for that. And competition, tension, expectations will be very high. So we need to cope with that and we need to be steady and perform our best. But it depends on that day (competition day at the Games). It could be anything”. Anju Bobby George said on TOI Sportscast.
The three Arjuna awardees nevertheless do believe the Indian contingent in Tokyo has the potential to better their 2012 London Olympics performance and possibly go past the mark of 6 medals, which remains India’s best haul at one edition of the Games.
“Toes and fingers knotted and crossed,” they say.
This latest episode of TOI Sportscast is available on all leading podcast platforms like Spotify, Amazon music, Google podcasts, Gaana, Saavn and also on the podcast page of timesofindia.com.