The joy felt by Indians over the successes of P.V. Sindhu in badminton, Sakshi Malik in wrestling and Dipa Karmakar in gymnastics is understandable. At the same time, the question needs to be asked, as has been done earlier, as to why India, a nation of 1.2 billion people, second only to China in population, could win only two medals, which is one of its worst performances in recent years? India won six medals at the 2012 Olympics and three in 2008. The usual explanation for such a dismal record is known — poor infrastructure, poor physique, poor diet and the lack of the so-called killer instinct.
Our sportsmen and women are rarely up to the mark compared to their better-prepared opponents who have had the advantages of state-of-the-art training facilities and dedicated coaches. Some of them are also selected at an early age by talent-spotters who instil in them a desire to win at major events. Cricket is the only game where they routinely do well.