CWG 2018: India’s athletes fly high, federations stoop low

If we look at the medal tally, this is India’s third best performance at the Commonwealth Games. India have won 101 medals in the 2010 edition which was held in Delhi, and 69 medals in the 2002 CWG that took place in Manchester.

However, a medal tally does not always tell the whole story. In many ways, India’s Gold Coast outing is probably the best one India has had. As has been pointed out by Sharda Ugra, there are several factors that indicate that this is indeed the best run that India has had until now at the Commonwealth Games.

26 of the 66 medals that have been won are gold, making the number of gold medals in India’s haul more than the number of silvers and bronzes. Secondly, unlike other years, the medals won by the athletes go beyond the restricted disciplines of wrestling, shooting, boxing and weightlifting. In the 2018 CWG, India have won medals in as many as seven disciplines.

Thirdly, even in events that India failed to win medals, there have been achievements that are worth taking note of, such as Hima Das, Muhammad Anas, and Arpinder Singh to name a few. These athletes reached a stage that rarely happens in India.

Also Read: Small acts that made Indian hearts soar

However, this is about what the athletes have done at the Commonwealth Games. How about we take a moment to step back and not try to enjoy the medal gush vicariously through others and take a look at what the federations have done for the athletes ahead and during the CWG.

Case 1: Delay in coming out with the list of participants

As the Commonwealth Games were drawing nearer, the Athletics Federation of India found itself in a hot mess as the potential artists could not find their names in the list that was brought out of the probable candidates. Hima Das, who went on to have the best ever performance in 400m in the CWG, was one of the names that were missing from the list of candidates.

Also Read:Names mixed up in official entry lists for Indian Athletes


Case 2: Violation of the No Needle Policy

The violation of the no needle policy was probably one of the most embarrassing and shameful events that India had to face during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The Indian contingent had been warned on two previous occasions for travelling with syringes. Although the doctor of the boxing team was let off, it was a clear violation of the no needle policy that the Commonwealth Games Federation were following.

However, this is not where it all ended. India refused to learn a lesson and before the triple jump final, Rakesh Babu who was a finalist and Irfan Thodi who had finished 13th in the race walking event were found with syringes with no proper explanation and were kicked out of the CWG village immediately.

Also Read:KT Irfan, Rakesh Babu sent home


Case 3: Gymnastics Kit Penalties

Competitions like Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and so on, are essentially championships where the victory is more of your nation’s than your own. So imagine exactly how irresponsible a federation has to be when their contingent gets penalised on the grounds of not sporting the national emblem on their kits.

Also Read:Will the real Gymnastics Federation of India please stand up?

Each of the gymnasts was penalised for this shockingly huge error and were further penalised for not wearing the same leotards in the team final. For the Gymnastics Federation of India, this was one of many irresponsible moves, but literally making athletes pay for a federation’s unpardonable error was one of the lowest points in this edition of the CWG.


Case 4: Weightlifters having to leave without physio, massage therapist

We all know the kind of performance the Indian weightlifters have given to India. But how much did the Indian Olympic Association do for them? The weightlifting contingent which was earmarked for medals, which was delivered too, left for the Gold Coast 2018 without their physios and massage therapists.

During the course of their events, they sustained several injuries and cramps and had no physiotherapists to take care of them. The likes of Mirabai Chanu, Gururaja and so on, complained of the fact to the officials who did nothing in return. It is alarming how the IOA found it more important for Saina Nehwal’s father’s accreditation to be cleared but let an entire weightlifting contingent go ahead without a doctor with them.


Case 5: Saina Nehwal threatening IOA

More than this being incompetence on the part of the IOA, it was the sheer lack of a backbone that stands out in this instance. When Saina Nehwal found her father’s name to not be among 15 officials/non-athletes that had been cleared for travel to Gold Coast, she sent the IOA a letter stating that she would not play for India if her father was not given his accreditation.

In a contingent when some disciplines travelled to the tournament without coaches, physios, doctors, Saina’s father should have, firstly, not been a priority clearance. Secondly and probably more disheartening is the fact that Saina, the most successful badminton star in the country, had no qualms about putting India’s participation in jeopardy for her own personal needs.

Also Read:Saina Nehwal complains, threatens, blackmails


Case 6: Shooter’s father getting access to private zones

Towards the end of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017, Javier Ceppi jokingly said that one of the first words he learnt in India was jugaad. India showed exactly how good they can be with jugaad when the father of a member of the shooting contingent managed to get hold of accreditation that not only allowed him to get access to the village, but also gave him access to areas that are only reserved for athletes and team members.

The incident happened after India’s chef-de-mission, Vikram Sisodia got accreditation for Vinay Varman, father of double trap shooter Varsha, apparently because of their old friendship. The other shooters then complained to Raninder Singh, who is the president of the NRAI. Vinay Varman was then asked to leave the premises.


Conclusion

When India wins a medal, federation heads and politicians are quick to take social media by storm, throwing about words like “India’s daughters”. However, when it comes to actually ensuring that the athletes get to go out there to do their own thing without having to carry on their shoulders the baggage of gross mismanagement and negligence, there is almost never anyone to take the onus.

From the GFI failing to provide accreditation to the coach of India’s only representative in rhythmic gymnast, Meghna Gundlapally, to not even bothering to check for the national emblem on the kits of the gymnasts, or the IOA sending an entire contingent off with no physio; India’s sporting federation’s contribution towards their athletes has been extremely asymmetric when compared to the manner in which the athletes paid back.