“The road to the Olympics leads to no city, no country. It goes far beyond New York or Moscow, ancient Greece or Nazi Germany. The road to the Olympics leads – in the end – to the best within us.”
This expresses the truest essence of the Olympics where there is a remarkable exhibition of the robustness and resilience of the human spirit. Olympics is a platform where the crème de la crème of sports from all around the globe come together and compete with a mutual feeling of love and respect for one another.
Started during the 5th century in Greece, the history of the Olympics is littered with moments of great cultural, political, and socio-economic significance. From athletes like Jesse Owens defying Hitler and eventually going to win several medals, proving the Aryan race theory wrong to first women athletes participating in the 1900 Olympics in Paris, paving the way for women equality in sports.
Olympics has also acted as a uniting force to bring together hundreds of nations, participating side by side. Besides that, the Olympians are the symbol of honour for their country. They are representatives of their nation, showing the world that their country has what it takes to compete with the world.
The journey of India in the Olympics from Paris 1900 to Tokyo 2020 has been a bumpy ride and its tryst with the Olympics spans over a hundred years – with the country enjoying its most successful Games in Tokyo.
This year India finished 48th on the medal tally in Tokyo, its highest ranking over four decades with 1 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze medals. And the star of the show was the 23-year-old boy from Haryana, Neeraj Chopra, who proved that if there is passion, discipline, hard work and an indomitable spirit to win then nothing can come in the way of victory. He quenched the country’s thirst for gold in athletics with his 87.58m javelin throw and scripted history by winning the first gold medal for an Indian in track-and-field events.
In a country of 1.37 billion, only 7 medals may seem like a trickle and much overrated compared to the other developed countries like the US, China, Japan but in hindsight if we look at the journey which India has had in the Olympics and the past one year of despair and misery, it is a ray of hope for the entire nation and also for the budding sportsmen who want to pursue sports as their career. This gold medal is a symbol of capability and assurance that we are not a notch down from the rest of the world and anything could be achieved by us.
Other star performers were weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (Silver), Wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya (Silver), Shuttler P.V Sindhu (Bronze), Boxer Lovlina Borgohain (Bronze), Wrestler Bajrang Punia (Bronze), and last but not the least the Indian Men hockey team (Bronze) who won an Olympic medal after a gap of 41 years. These are the men and women of steel and thunder who made the nation proud and gave the people something to cheer in these darker times of the pandemic.
Overall, the Olympics is not only an event but it is a festival of competition, friendship, mutual respect and most importantly it is the podium which leads to the best within us and the best as humans could be.