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Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
The Olympics: Can South Asia win?

The last time India won an Olympic gold medal was in 1980. Pakistan's record of medals is nothing to boast about either.

South Asia
In the past, South Asians have done well in hockey, wrestling and target shooting but why do they lag so far behind in other sports?

Is it a question of stamina, is it due to poor training facilities, or is the climate a major factor? Should South Asian governments invest more in their sportsmen/women?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Any sportsperson who excels does so in spite of the system, not because of it

Srinivas Bangarbale, USA/ India
Nepotism, favouritism and corruption run rampant in most sports bodies of the subcontinent - a reflection of the societies in general. Any sportsperson who excels does so in spite of the system, not because of it.
Srinivas Bangarbale, USA/ India

I think to be a good sportsperson requires one to be much more dedicated than getting a college degree, for example. I think this toughness is lacking in South Asians. Ancient Indian philosophy always advocates control your mind and everything will be alright.
Narendra Jain, USA/ India

We Indians spend a lot of effort exercising, with particular emphasis on exercising the brain. What we undoubtedly lack in athletic prowess, we more than make up for in intellectual prowess!!
Rahul Mahajan, UK

The majority of the population in South Asia lives in villages, many of them in very remote places. People in these villages have not even heard of the word "sports" at all. In other words sporting facilities are limited to very few people residing in the townships. Moreover the sporting facilities in these very few urban areas are less than adequate. In this situation how could we expect to win?
Lilu, Nepal

It's all a question of economics

Fahd Husain, U.A.E.
It's all a question of economics. If sport pays, if youngsters and their parents know that excelling in sport will mean big money, and if companies know sponsoring sports and athletes will pay dividends, there will be no shortage of champions from South Asia.
Fahd Husain, U.A.E.

Both the UK and the US have a large Indian population but how many athletes have come from this population? This proves that even if food is available and is not a concern, Indians would rather sit at home and do nothing.
Amit, India

Lack of resources, training facilities, and a high risk of failure are all key factors. It also seems that most of the Olympic sports are chosen to give advantage to people following a westernised lifestyle. One of the most popular sports in the world, cricket, has never been part of this great event.
Sharat, Madagascar

To succeed in sport at the highest level requires extensive scouting of young talent

Rajiv Sinha, USA
To succeed in sport at the highest level requires extensive scouting of young talent, grooming over the years for the talent to mature and finally state or corporate sponsorship. South Asian countries lack all of the above. No wonder a country like India with 1 billion people has won only 1 Olympic medal in its entire history with the exception of those for field hockey.
Rajiv Sinha, USA

The only reason is that all governments and politicians are corrupt and they never let athletes get good facilities and benefits. Corruption cannot help athletes win in sport.
Richie, USA

Poverty, illiteracy and a negative attitude towards sport can be attributed for the poor performance. There is no proper infrastructure to identify the talents and train the youngsters. In most families if a child shows more interest in sport than studies it is discouraged, since the parents fear for the future of the child. Measures must be taken to address the above hurdles.
Manivannan, Canada

In India we do not see or hear about sport played at State/ University level, whereas in sport loving countries like the US you see them competing on TV. Basically we do not have sport in our system at all (with the exception of cricket which has also lost ground).
Mahesh, India/ USA

What comes first - a full stomach or sports?

Mo Akhtar, Canada
What comes first - a full stomach or sports? Poverty is more concerned with where the next meal is coming from not medals.
Mo Akhtar, Canada

What medals can you expect from a country that sends more officials than players? Government officials are the storehouse of corruption and wrong selections.
Amit, India/ USA

Many of the individual sports where South Asians are not so good require consistent heavy exercise over many years. Most people are so poor that they cannot afford the training and amount of proper food it takes to carry out the necessary top level training - it is simply not a high priority matter. Economy and survival comes before sport.
Miklos Nomad, Hungary

South Asia lacks a culture of physical fitness and exercise that is necessary for sporting success. This applies equally to the sizeable middle classes. Even in the two sports that South Asia has done well - hockey and cricket - its athletes lag behind those from other countries in terms of fitness and stamina.
Adeeb Khalid, USA

South Asians are cricket crazy. They play cricket, cricket and cricket. That's why India and Pakistan don't perform well in the Olympics.
Torab Ilyas Ahmed, Pakistan

I lived in India for 15 years and have now been a US resident for almost 10 years. What I have noticed is that Indian culture is much more different than here. Everything is laid-back in India whereas in Western countries like America, life is more active. So, I think a lack of interest has to do with culture more than anything else and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.
Manoj Patel, USA

Poor training facilities and a lack of adequate resources and funding are key factors in the relative dearth of medals for South Asia

Saeed, USA
Poor training facilities and a lack of adequate resources and funding are key factors in the relative dearth of medals for South Asia. It is ridiculous to ask the governments of these countries to invest money for the athletes to win a "necklace of metal" when there are more pressing needs, such as poverty, disease and famine to tackle.
Saeed, USA

I feel that middle class parents in India give utmost importance to education over anything else. They believe that education gives their children a better life and hence they don't want them to engage in any "counter-productive" activities like sport.
Anant Rao, Indian in the USA

South Asian governments and financial companies don't provide enough sponsorship, well equipped sports centres for sports other than cricket. With such a huge population they can definitely train some fine athletes and various sports teams which can compete at international level.
Vikram Jani, India/ USA

Better facilities definitely, but you need money for those!!!
Ali A. Yaseen, France

It's definitely the lack of commitment from the Government and the sporting institutions. They are not providing funding and training. There are no initiatives being taken by any one of them to really improve sport in India.
Murali, Australia

One of the primary reasons for the pathetic performance that South Asia displays at the Olympics lies in the fact that there is immense scarcity in funds to train athletes. Were these countries given more funding from their national governments and corporations, their results might have been starkly different.
Hely Chavan, Indian in the USA

South Asian countries are facing a lot of internal problem like poverty, illiteracy, and corruption. Our young generation has a lot of potential. I hope in these coming days South Asian countries will take a keen interest, and they will be able to win the medals.
Hassan, Pakistan

In countries where basic necessities are unavailable to the masses, it would be unconscionable to spend scarce government resources on sports. The First World can afford to do so. The populace in general can also afford to spend quality time on recreation and competitive sport as they do not need to worry about daily necessities as is the case in South Asia.
The way forward is for the corporate sector in South Asia to sponsor and finance sports tournaments and facilities to get a 'critical mass' of athletes required to succeed internationally.
Naeem Siddiqi, Canada

It is corruption and discrimination. Consider the case of India for dropping its most reputed weight lifter Kunjarani from Manipur simply on racial grounds. That Manipuri boxer Dingo was also included in the list for India team under mounting pressure from the public. Had India enlisted Kunjarani who has begged gold in many international competitions the chance might have been very high.
Chungk, US

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See also:

01 Sep 00 | South Asia
Pakistan hopes for Olympic glory
30 Aug 00 | South Asia
Olympic row in Sri Lanka
26 Aug 00 | South Asia
Taleban furious over Olympic 'snub'
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