Why 1.2 bn people have just one Sakshi Malik and one P V Sindhu

Indians are celebrating the success of Malik and Sindhu at Rio, but not their struggle against a callous system that had discouraged them at every step.

aasha

Aasha Khosa | August 19, 2016 | New Delhi


#Sakshi Malik   #PV Sindhu   #Rio   #skating  
Sakshi Malik
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@SakshiMalik

 Watching the ecstatic parents of Sakshi Malik and P V Sindhu on the television as the girls picked medals and ended a drought for team India at the Rio Olympics, I remembered that long time ago, I too had played a sporty mom. Like most parents do, we too have enrolled our 8-year old for summer classes. Her tryst with roller skating was rather accidental.

Soon, I saw her enjoying it. In her first competition [local], she tripped a few meters away from the finishing line. She seemed poised for a gold medal but had ended with a bronze. But more importantly, that day she had picked a key lesson of life: success does not come easily.
In coming years, I travelled with her to many cities across India for her zonal and national competitions. At times, we would return with medals. But mostly on our return journey we would be talking about experiences and learnings from the event.  Life for her and us – the parents –was all about training, winning, losing, falling, running, target etc. She was doing pretty well in studies too. She would tell us how she was get felicitated in the morning assembly after her return from an event.
 
However, when she was in eighth standard, her class teacher had made this remark on her report card,  “She can do better but for that her indulgence in sports has to come down.”  Her attitude was shocking.
 
We had arranged private coaching for our daughter. Each day she would devote at least four hours for travelling and training. The professional skates are expensive but no amount is too big to see your child bloom and grow.
 
Her food choices were limited. She never had a cold drink in her childhood. At the rink, I would often see the coach counselling parents to feed children well. Majority being vegetarians would be advised to eat sprouts and paneer.
 
My daughter was being praised by her coaches for her attitude and physique. They would advise us to be supportive in her endeavour. However, at school, her teachers were apparently unhappy with her ‘indulgence’.  They would even find fault with children for joining the practice sessions for the annual sports day and missing studies.
 
The sportspersons would almost be made to feel guilty about their passion. Now her scores had also started falling. Competition in the arena was getting tough. My daughter was prepared for the long haul but I, as a parent, was anxious. Am I pushing her into an area where there is no future? Would she be branded by her teachers as the “sports kind” who need not do well in studies.
 
By the time she was in ninth standard and had mammoth academic syllabus to cover, I had pulled her out. I was not willing to take the risk of making my child face her hostile teacher and feel guilty about not scoring A plus.
 
Today I realise, there must be scores of Sakshi Maliks and P V Sindhus, who could not make it to Rio because of the hostile teachers, an indifferent society and a system that does not nurture sportsmanship.
 

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