x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Olympics: Lesser lights are shining for India

The hyped up hockey team have been hardly alone in being lackadaisical though.

The very less-known Vijay Kumar has got India's best medal finish so far - a silver in shooting.
The very less-known Vijay Kumar has got India's best medal finish so far - a silver in shooting.

Predictably, despite the medals won by the likes of Vijay Kumar and Mary Kom, the performance of the hockey team has been the biggest headline during India's Olympic campaign.

India have not reached the semi-finals of the Olympic event or the World Cup since Moscow in 1980, but each team journeys to the Games with delusional dreams of emulating Dhyan Chand and the other titans who won eight gold medals.

In one respect, Indian hockey has been remarkably consistent. After each debacle, it is inevitably the foreign coach who is asked to shoulder the blame.

In this case, some ex-players have asked for Michael Nobbs to be sacked for his scathing assessment of the players' attitude.

"If you are happy to go home having just turned up at the Olympic Games, the team cannot expect much from you," said Nobbs, who was part of a wonderful Australian side in the 1980s. "I come from a sporting culture where players are willing to line up their coffins on the side of the pitch. That's their pride in representing the country."

Those who wore the India shirt in London showed no such inclination.

The hockey boys were hardly alone in being lackadaisical though. Deepika Kumari went into the archery competition ranked No 1. As she flunked out, there were giggles rather than grimaces.

The hyped tennis team may as well not have bothered to turn up. It was Kom, almost unknown in India despite being a five-time world boxing champion, and Kumar, in shooting, who came from the shadows and stole the limelight.

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