The fifteen-day sports festival Asiad ’82, hosted by the founder of the Asian Games, India and staged mainly in New Delhi, the capitałpf India’was a spectacular success and a memorable event. Everything went with clockwork efficiency from start to finish, from reception, housing, food, transport to the final conduct of the numerous sports activities themselves. India confidently staged the Asiad with 33 countries taking part, 5,000 players participating and sporting events running to 21 disciplines. India performed its ok with competence and efficiency and the world witnessed the spirit of the new youthful India with awe, admiration and a new respect.
The various stadia, the Asiad village complex, the sprawling flyovers, the towering five-star hotels and many other engineering and architectural feats were achieved in a short span of less than two years using indigenous brains, talent, labor and skill. Architects drew vivid, imaginative, futuristic designs, engineers translated them into concrete realities by giving them body and shape and imposing as well as inspiring monuments in the form of many stadia, and other facilities took shape in no time. No less a person than the President of the International Olympic Association paid a glorious tribute to the Indian organizers, engineers, and managers of Asiad ’82 when he said that Delhi could be a strong contender for staging the 1992 Olympic Games themselves.
However, the performance of the nation’s sportsmen and sportswomen, as compared to that of the organizers and builders, has not been very flattering. Despite their near continuous and sustained training, coupled with coaching, test and trials, our sportsmen and sportswomen could bag a mere 13 gold medals, two short of the highest gold tally achieved by India in the first Asiad held in New Delhi in 1951. India was then regarded as one of the leading Asian sporting nations and competed in six disciplines. Since then Asian nations have made very remarkable improvements in theirs. sports standards while India appears to be static or even slid downwards as evidenced by its showing in men’s hockey. Nevertheless, its overall medals tally in the Asiad ’82 is 57 which is more than double the number of medals won in the last two Asian Games at Teheran and Bangkok (28 each).
The country also climbed up the ladder to rank fifth from the seventh position it occupied at the Bangkok Games. China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea are ahead of India in the medals tally and earning golds. But it had surged ahead of the Philippines, Iran, and Thailand which had higher rankings earlier. China and Japan dominated the games and each secured a total tally of 153 medals. Thus 306 medals out of a total of 614, practically 50 percent of the medals, have been cornered by these two countries. The important feature of the Ninth Asiad is also the emergence of China as the champions for the first time. Their achievement is remarkable as they have dethroned Japan, who have been the Asiad champions consecutively for eight times running since the inception of the Asiad in 1951.
Next to the two Asiad giants, China and Japan, the two Koreas, South and North, have occupied the third and fourth positions respectively. The medals tally of South Korea reads as 28 gold, 28 silver and 37 bronze, totaling 93, and that of North Korea amounts to 17 gold, 19 silver and 20 bronze (total 56). South Korea can be expected to do still better in the next Asiad when the Tenth Asian Games are held in 1986 in Seoul, their national capital. If India prepares well it can easily overtake North Korea. Even “ow India has bagged a total of 57 medals as against North Korea’s wu.
But North Korea has bagged 17 golds whereas India’s tally is only. 13. It is interesting to note that China, Japan and the two Koreas. have cornered among themselves 82 per cent of the gold medals available, leaving the balance 18 percent to be shared by the 29 other nations. India, despite its vast size and huge population, got one-third of the remainder of the Asiad gold medals. Its share of the total 614 Asiad medals was only 9.3 per cent. Population and area seem irrelevant though China is the largest in both spheres and it has emerged as the Asiad champion. In contrast, India, despite its size and population, could do no more than capturing the fifth position. Japan, South Korea and North Korea, who are comparatively smaller in size and population, have done extremely well. The West Asian countries have been strong challengers in football and Pakistan continues to reign supreme in hockey.
As regards India’s performance, one can say it has not done badly. In other words, what it has achieved was not perhaps expected or anticipated. Conversely, one can say that things could have been worse. It is statistically a fact that India has got the fifth-ranking moving up from the seventh position it occupied in the last Asiad. Its tally of a total 57 medals with 13 golds looks respectable as compared to the sixth-ranked country, Indonesia, which has got a total of 15 medals with four golds included. But considering the fact that India is next only to China among the Asian nations in terms of the size in area and population, our performance will definitely be rated as much below average. Secondly, a number of Medals, including golds, have been won by India in the disciplines which have been introduced for the first time in the Asiad schedule. For example, India bagged three golds in Pune Sirian, two golds in golf and won gold in the women’s hockey event. It is only a matter. of time before the other countries attain full proficiency in these disciplines and challenge us successfully. In fact, three petite and pretty girls from Kuwait beat all the men and bagged all three medals in equestrian show jumping. In the area of athletics, our women contingent from Kerala had done real proud job and this is certainly an encouraging factor. The performance of Valsamma, Mercy Mathews Kuttan, P.T, Usha and Padmini Thomas can inspire others with hope and confidence to try harder and similarly succeed in other disciplines.
All these criticisms would have lost their bite, if not their relevance if only India had fared better in the one discipline in which it enjoys the reputation of being the father founder and fountain of expertise or mastery. After India reached the finals in the men’s hockey event with an impressive performance in the earlier rounds and trouncing Japan by 7 goals to 2 in the semi-finals, its humiliating defeat by one goal to 7 at the hands of Pakistan came as an utter surprise. A lot was expected from our hockey stalwarts. But the Pakistani hockey eleven, which functioned like a well-oiled military machine, was a treat to watch and it played havoc with our 1. This Asiad defeat is the worst that Indian hockey has ever suffered. The Indians apparently knew all the tricks and theories but were at a loss to translate their advantages to goals. The Pakistanis, who definitely played a better game individually and worked more effectively as a team, demonstrated how opportunities should be grabbed and turned into goals by speed, dynamism, determination, anticipation and swift reaction. Although the first goal was scored by India, the Pakistanis never lost their cool or composure. It looked as though they knew for certain that victory would be theirs ultimately. It is time that in sports one should play the game and not attach too much importance to the results. It is here the rub comes. Did India play the game well? Getting beaten by the vast margin of seven goals to one in a top level world class hockey match does not speak of quality and standard. No one will blame Japan for losing the first place in the Asiad to China.
The margin of victory has been extremely thin. With a little luck Japan could easily have retained its continued Asiad championship. But in the men’s hockey India was shocked and mauled by Pakistan. A soul searching has to be done objectively and analytically to find out where all we had gone wrong. Pages and volumes have been written about India’s hockey debacle. We must become wise, benefit by our mistakes and learn our lessons. We must concentrate now on improvements. We must not lose heart. We must make amends. The future is ahead and nothing is impossible.
The Ninth Asiad has brought to us immense sports facilities. Nothing in the way of stadia, playfields, equipment and so on is. missing or lacking now. Everything is available for the asking. It is or the youth of India and the sports organizations, officials and promoters to make best use of the Facilities available to us. Those who have toiled incessantly and organized this historic sports meet have done an excellent job. The same organizing ability and managerial capacity can be harnessed and utilized to ensure that our sportsmen and sportswomen get the appropriate encouragement, training and laurels for India.