Why India Struggles to Win Gold Medals in the Olympics – The New York Times

This is the pressure, inside your head all the time, he added.

Bindra, the Beijing 2008 gold medalist, said that his success was rooted not in state support but in family wealth. His father built a world-class shooting range in their home in the northern city of Chandigarh. Then he topped it up with a swimming pool and a gym so that his son could build his muscle. At the time, the only comparable shooting range was in New Delhi.

Viren Rasquinha, a former captain of the Indian hockey team, is now the chief executive of Olympic Gold Quest, a nonprofit group founded by former top-flight athletes to promote the next generation of talent.

While Rasquinha said that the national sports authority has shed some of its lumbering, graft-ridden reputation, creating an ecosystem of coaches, training facilities, infrastructure and equipment takes time.

In recent years, the countrys most powerful crop of Olympians has come from a narrow neck of land in northeastern India, where ethnic minorities live in the shadow of the Himalayas. These states, Manipur and Assam, are home to insurgent movements fighting for autonomy from the Indian state. Because of their ethnicity, people there often face discrimination.

Rural youth have the passion and fire in the belly, which is missing among the students in the cities, said Rasquinha, whose group has funded some of these athletes.

Mary Kom, a light-flyweight boxer from Manipur who captured bronze at the 2012 Games in London, said she has long faced prejudice from Hindu nationalists who say that as a Christian, she is somehow not truly Indian. There are also racist whispers, some not so quiet, that people from the Himalayan foothills are more martial than others in India and thats why they make good boxers.

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Why India Struggles to Win Gold Medals in the Olympics - The New York Times

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