Home > Ideas > When will we win?

When will we win?

Although Sales Professionals may find it useful too, the topic covered in this article is not from the Sales domain; however, the messages should be of relevance to them too. I wish to hear from Sales Professionals who read this article.

The much awaited London games are already underway – and most conversations these days involve the events and the winners; the glory, the agony, the determination and the effort involved.  In India the discussions focus on our nation’s inability to discover champions. From the time I was in high school till now there have been 10 Olympic Games and the scene in 1976 was pretty much the same as what we have today – India fails to make a mark. A Bronze here, a Silver there and out of the blue, in 2008, a piece of Gold! In 2012 the search is still on.

We watch with admiration and envy as athletes from China, USA and even some very small nations perform with such competence and confidence and walk away with the medals – a 15 yr Lithuanian school kid swims her way to a Gold Medal and a Chinese 16 year old has already won 2 medals; athletes from nations that are mere specks on the map are able to strike Gold and a billion Indians seem incapable of anything. Our World No.1 ranked archer faded out even without putting up a fight.

I watched so many of the events featuring India – players seemed to give up from winning positions – two big medals hopes did not even get past the preliminary rounds. There was no fire in their performance or the will to give it their 100%.

I debated this earlier with my friends on Facebook and these are some of the messages received:

  1. Indian athletes don’t get access to world class training facilities
  2. The money received to train athletes are eaten by officials or used for other purposes
  3. Talent is not spotted early enough and groomed
  4. There is no program for development of athletics, like in China
  5. Cricket gets all the money and attention, not the other sports
  6. We are not built for athletics – it’s not in our genes
  7. Our athletes don’t get sufficient exposure on the world arena
  8. Parents need to invest time and money in developing their kids
  9. Parents need to push their kids to pursue sports other than cricket
  10. Our Government does not support development of Sports

While discussing the poor results with my brother, who works for a Government department, I got this feedback. His organisation employs many athletes and sportspersons based on performance at National events. They don’t have to compete with the regular job seeker to get a job – the expectation is that they will represent the organisation in sports. But within 1 to 3 years of joining, a majority of them would give up playing or performing and the ones who continue would usually be in poor physical condition because the energy that was displayed till they got the job is no longer present and they do not practice either. They were just going through the motions.

When asked, these people invariably say – “Why bother? Don’t we have a steady job?”

It wasn’t glory or achievement that was their focus; this was a short cut to a job. And so they remained mediocre or marginal performers. Some of them would represent India at Asian level or at the Olympics and lose in the preliminary stages. Why bother?

We can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Indian athletes who have made a mark at the world stage.

Yes, some of it has to do with the genes, some due to lack of opportunity, exposure and wee bit could be on account of lack political will to promote sports and athletics. But I believe that a lot of it has to do with our culture and the innate lack of interest.

Majority of the Indians sportspersons do no pursue sports because they love it. It’s not to display ability or to achieve glory they play the game – that is the last thing on their mind; it’s just a means to a secure life. The priority is this – “How can I beat the odds and overtake bulk of the population and get a life of comfort. Let me find a sponsor or get some endorsement money, put it away in a bank and then take it easy.”

Do we Indians as a culture like to work hard and go through the grind? Do we wish to push the limits and achieve levels of excellence? Do we have the attitude to take the fight to the other camp?

Killer instinct, aggression, daring, ability to recover from an adverse situation, perseverance and passion don’t seem to be a part of the Indian athlete’s lexicon.

I know there is talent in India, but there is no program to find and groom them. But all the achievers we have seen in various spheres got there in spite of the inconveniences and the pain – the path to glory was not a bed of rose for them. So it’s about the stuff you are made of and the environment that you grew up in. Malcolm Gladwell has spoken a lot about this in his book Outliers – I shall speak about that on another day.

Indian athletes need to stop worrying about the job and bread winning for now and get involved in sports for the right reasons – they need to go about with passion and with the image of themselves posing against the backdrop of the Indian tricolor shining bright in their mind.

Then they will start winning … only then!

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  1. Ragumuthukumar
    August 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Jey very well said the fire in them is till they land in Rly, SBI, etc. It sharply diminishes inversely from the years they start working. I know many who succumb to this. Leaving aside sport, I feel this relaxing tenendency, Is built within all Indians, no matter what trade they r in, the intensity, interest to learn, innovation, motivation to proove, with which they enter their field diminishes as the years progress.. And very few only very few who keeps this fire burning in them year after year
    becomes more successful. Let me take me as an example, I can say I don’t carry the same level of intense interest to learn in my subject, for weeks I don’t refer any, it’s not that I know everything but it is that “feeling” that makes me I know it all. This was not the case when I started my carrier I read, searched, asked every sungle possible think to know what is it hw s it works, etc.. I m sure as you rightly said it applies to all not just sports alone.. If you don’t sharpen yourself and keep you updated.. You r a sitting duck waiting to be shot dead..

    • JayadevM
      August 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Hi Ragu

      Excellent analysis. What I liked most is that you personalised the message and took your own life as the example. Change happens when we analyse our own work and effort and then do what is needed to take it to the next level.

      Yes, we need all Indians to do the same. Be uncomfortable about the state of affairs and take action to correct it.

  2. August 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    We are a country where there is a lot of talent…immense talent..but there is no specific programme or organisation to tune them and grrom them.Besides,inspite of all the talent there are very few who put them to good use…very few who pursue their dreams…very few parents who support them because even before a child is born he or she’s career is determined…and today in India there is room only for cricket because that is the easiest way to riches and fame..Sadly the Goverment at the Centre nor the States encourage sports.In my organisation we have a whole lot of cricketers…some of themwho have played for India…some of them who have played just a match ot two.They are all in the level of Managers and above who never come for work..draw a huge pay packet and know nothing about office or administration.Sports and NCC are just a way of finding secure jobs and like you had mentioned once they get a secure job then sports is forgotten.We have something called the Nehru trophy Boat race which takes place in my native village every year.There is so much of publicity for this event…can’t the Govt find talent there and train them for rowing and sailing…These days all that Happens on a regular basis are Reality shows…everyone from the time they are 3years old just want to learn to dance and sing…Where do we go from here?????

    • JayadevM
      August 1, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Kathy

      I don’t think our Government can do much -they come in after the athlete becomes a winner and take a share of the glory.

      Yes, there is talent, enough and more of it; the passion is missing.

      India needs committed and focused individuals who are ready to do what it takes.

  3. August 2, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Hi Jayadev

    I think its either way..Those with talent and passion do not get the required support and those getting all the support lack the passion as you pointed out and do it purely for the benefits…
    Another thing I find lacking is the confidence or the go-getter attitude…We Indians are used to looking with awe at other countries like US or China when it comes to Sports…We step forward with a ‘We can definitely not match them’ belief….When that goes the rest will follow I suppose! Great post as always!

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Hi Jayashree

      That is right – a mix of so many factors. Let’s us hope with changing economic scenario in this country the attitude towards sports will change and we will have athletes who will participate and perform for the love of it.

      And Yes, there is a need for mental preparation too – not be awed by the occasion or by the opponent.

      Thank you for visiting, yet again!

  4. Jose
    August 2, 2012 at 6:22 am

    I agree. Somehow the fire is missing and as you rightly say – its evident when one watches them go through the motions!

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Hi Jose

      Good to see you here. Welcome to the blog.

  5. Jamy
    August 2, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I have nothing to add except that from the time that I could read properly and follow sports on an international level, the few sports that India has shown some kind of consistency has been cricket- twice world cup champion and runner-up once as well; Tennis has been a close second with Vijay Amritraj, Ramesh and Lee-Hesh, We have had Prakash Padukone, Gopichand and now Saina Nehwal in badminton.India has been quite consistent with bronze and silver medal producing boxers…. I did follow the debate you had on fb and I am unable to pinpoint any one reason except that if India wants to be a powerhouse in any sport the sportsmen and women need to make sacrifices to their life to be out and out professionals and think of nothing else except reaching the numero uno status and staying there for a considerable period of time, not like an Abhinav Bindra who lost it after scaling the peak once!! Very relevant read Jay!!

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Hi Jamy

      Yes, we have had a few successes in cricket and rare ones in tennis (I don’t wish to see the Doubles and Mixed-doubles winners in the same category as Singles winners). And then in Badminton, like you pointed out.

      At the Olympics after we lost the dominance in hockey medals have been rare or impossible to get. I hope all that will change in the years ahead .. but a lot has to be done for that to happen.

  6. August 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Play to play should be in the mind … Winning is all about how much you are excelling to your own ability. In India … we compare more with others then our self performance … this creates the hurdles …… China is a great example of excelling self .
    Parents should focus equally on sport … because at last it has been seen people who excels in sports and extra curricular activities are good in their profession too. Govt. should stop promoting non sports professional in Sports Managing body at least by 70 %. This will create the needful change.

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Hi DTOALAB

      Great to see your comments here. Like you rightly pointed out the constant endeavours should be to get better than one’s own last performance. Focus and energy to be directed inward for further improvement.

      And Yes, there has to be a huge change in the way sports is managed in India.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  7. August 2, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Focus should be more on discipline and Identifying the Gaps in performance and working on it. There are huge number of Talents in India . We can see them coming with Medal the moment official stop getting biased and start focusing on Talent only .Expecting to see better result in sports !

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 10:55 am

      May your prayer come true. India depends on that!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Mushy
    August 2, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Indians seems to be grooming and focusing on other domains….check the realities shows on idiot box with regard to singing and dancing and one can make out where are being headed to. Yes there is also a show showcasing ‘India’s got talent’………..

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 10:54 am

      Hi Mushy

      Welcome to my blog – Yes, some work is happening in dancing and singing. But sadly they are not original either. Most of them just reproduce what they see or hear – you don’t see original talent who make their own songs or dance.

      Whereas abroad you see original bands and dancers who create their own material.

      We need to promote such work here – not a copycat culture.

      I hope and wish to see India creating Originals!

  9. August 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Jayadev, Indians can and do perform under duress and greed. The latter has been displayed time and again by cricket, even it has meant ‘fixing’. the less said of the former the better. We can create a Taj Mahal or a Howrah bridge at the crackle of a whip!

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      Hi Umashankar

      The picture painted is painful and damning too – I wish to believe that somewhere deep inside thee is a person who wishes to show the world we can be original too.

      Yes, cricketers are terrible examples to follow, so are the BPOs (the modern day Taj Mahal builders).

      Let us hope and pray that there is a way out of this quagmire for us Indians! Am I clutching at straws?

  10. August 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    who said that india dnt have programs to find the young talents, u may know abt the sport authority of india which nurtures the youths, realy with an excellent infrastructure. tat selects students at th age of 8 to 14 and trains them, with free education and incentive, i also tried to enter into SAI for basket ball bt i cant. their trainings ll b rigorous.
    But actual facts r,
    1.most of the parents r not willing to send thr child to ths, they taught it s waste of time and ll spoil their child’s future.
    2.Students in rural schools does not aware abt this, no proper physical education s given to tem.
    3. their s no encouragements from the people of india, and even from the so called media. our medias should get them (Athletes, Hockey players, etc..) to limelight as do for cricket players.
    4. Lack of concentration and disgust of players due to th politics in selection comity
    ths s nly my opinion

    • JayadevM
      August 4, 2012 at 7:19 am

      Dear Sri Ram Raja

      Welcome to the Sales Coach blog.

      I am aware of the SAI – that is a grossly inadequate program and very few people are able to get access it. The facilities in SAI are not modern and they don’t have instructors who know the best practices in the world.

      If you think the SAI’s program is rigorous you can’t even dream of the levels in other countries. My friend, we have to put much bigger effort to be the best in the world.

      But that is not it – the SAI won;t solve any problem.

      We need many more stadia and sports complexes in our cities and towns – just compare the per capita number of

      – Badminton / Tennis / Volleyball / Basketball courts,
      – Swimming Pools,
      – Football / Hockey pitches.
      – Athletics Tracks
      – Table Tennis tables
      – Boxing Rings / Gyms

      And compare these numbers with the leading countries in the world you will get abysmal numbers for India. So to begin with more people need access to sports and facilities.

      Then, there has to be a robust talent scout program which is clear of politics and bias – only the best to be chosen.

      And finally put them through a long-term program – with assessment at every stage – there should be inclusions every 6-months and the ones who are not making the grade should be periodically reviewed and removed or told to improve (with timelines).

      They should be included in regional, national and international competitions.

      In this manner we can build up our Sports to international standards in a few years.

      These are my thoughts.

  11. vijay
    August 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    we do not have a sporting culture in the country today, we hardly have schools that encourage sports or invest in sports, unless we have schools promoting sports actively across the country it will be difficult for us to find winners on international arena, one reason why i like this initiative taken by NDTV-Marks for Sports and really hope it is successful. I believe this will also help kids in their overall growth and benefit them in other aspects of their life.

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 8:05 pm


      Welcome to the blog. Yes, we need more Corporates and Media Houses to come forward and promote sports.

  12. August 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Excellent blog as always. Most of my answers to the blog has been mentioned as your assumptions to the debate in facebook. To add to it I wish Govt /CBSE /ICSE does some interference in revising the hectic syllabus in schooling so that parents get sufficient time to identify and develop the talents of their kids in sports..:)

    • JayadevM
      August 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      Hi Roshni

      Welcome back!

      Yes, creating and developing interest in sports has to start at a very early stage – in China the process starts at the age of 3 or 4.

      And the kids need not mug up so much stuff in school – the load is too much and it is of no practical purpose.

      A revamp of the system is long overdue.

  13. August 3, 2012 at 2:46 am

    A useful read in this context… coincidence that took wrote and I tweeted same day… http://t.co/oDbRsSSK

    • August 3, 2012 at 2:48 am

      Typo – you wrote

    • JayadevM
      August 3, 2012 at 6:33 pm


      Thank you for sharing the article … First of all let India start winning a few times and then think about losing. We have not reach anywhere yet.

      I fully agree that we should not be obsessed with winning and my article is not asking for that at all. I am lamenting the lack of sporting blood and a system for the promotion of sports in India.

      I am also speaking about the need for fire … look at how Kashyap and Saina lost. They both lost to superior players and fought every inch of the way. But they did not have the speed or the skill of their opponents.

      But many of the Indian athletes gave up without a fight and that is the worry. I have suggested that along with the training to excel in their event the sportpersons should build mental toughness too.

      In India it is a big hill that athletes and sportsmen have to climb. Many things have to change.

      Let India lose a few times after winning a few first!

  14. August 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    It is not true that Indians lack passion or fire in the belly etc etc. There are many cases, however, it is not fair to brand all Indians due to a few cases. It is just easy to say that passion can take you everywhere.

    Since Malcolm Gladwell’s Outlier has been mentioned here, let’s just use his theory of 10,000 hours here as well. He says one needs to put on the 10,000 hours of effort to reach the pinnacle. How will a sportsman complete that 10,000 hours who has dependent family members? He has to take up a job to feed his family.

    I have seen a very promising fast bowler in Delhi leave cricket and do a job just to feed his family. It was a time when there was absolutely no money in cricket. I had counseled him and he went back to training along with doing a job. He trained even in the dead of night and made it to the Delhi one day matches. He was liked by the then India Coach Greg Chappel. Greg had told him that you become regular in Delhi team and I will pull you to the India team. However, due to Delhi politics he could not get into the Delhi four day Ranji team. He sacrificed his career but could not achieve his dream. There are millions like him.

    For many sportsmen, there is no psychological training. No counseling to make them strong so that in crunch moments a shooter doesn’t falter on firing arrows or shots etc.

    For every mediocre guy somehow getting into the team, there are many many deserving sportspersons who somehow could not come up for monetary reasons. Let us not blame Indians for lacking killer instincts. One boxer makes an olymipic debut and in less than 3 mins his opponent is vanquished and its a RSC (Referee stops contest). Is that not proof of Indian’s having killer instinct?

    • JayadevM
      August 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm


      First of all, welcome to my blog.

      Am happy to see your detailed response to my article. And I certainly see a lot of fire there.

      I wish many of the athletes had the fire in their belly and belief like you have displayed here.

      But let me reiterate, in the 30+ years I have been following sports there have not been too many occasions when Indian sports-persons showed aggression and gave it 110%; yes, there were instances when India won by really stretching themselves to the limit, but those were too few. Maybe you can point out a few in cricket and maybe 1 or 2 times in Davis Cup history, but at the Olympics hardly any.

      In this Olympics I was particularly disheartened by performance of the archers from whom so much was expected. Deepika Kumari in particular; World No.1 and she performed like an amateur – totally out of sorts.

      We have not had too many world class athletes in any class because sports, other than cricket, is not a priority in this country. How else will we account for the poor showing at the Olympics?

      I would love to see more Indians win medals – and when they lose they should do so after giving their 100%, like Kashyap and Saina did in Badminton; they lost to the World No.1 in their category, putting up a good fight.

      Yes, Malcolm Gladwell mentioned culture and the 10,000 hour theory and he also mentioned timing and luck. So your cricketer friend in spite of his talent was not lucky – he did not get the breaks that would have taken him to greater heights. And there are so many athletes like him who miss the bus thanks to politics and the badly managed Sports system.

      Thank you for the response and I look forward to reading your comments again.

  15. Anantha Kumar
    August 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Your post concerning the hot topic and various pointers raised by readers, more or less, took a lot of analogy towards a post of another friend of mine, to which I delineated an elaborate response – which I am producing below:
    Who is to be blamed for this sorry state of affairs in Indian sports???
    Lack of Sporting culture? – This gets intertwined and cross linked with lack of support at home. Specially w.r.t. the girl child, most parents are very conservative. Lots of things are still considered taboo in the society – we came from and in which we live. The most ironical part is that: Everyone is on his/her own and there is no helping hand to prevent some untoward incident from happening. However, the best part is that – most Indians are very very good in introspection, analysis, consultancy, post-mortem and there are hardly a few who can implement the findings of the short comings, so that the bar of competencies can be raised.
    Lack of Political support? – Why at all, does one need political support? Haven’t most sports lovers seen the outcome of the so-called “Sports quota” that is still pathetically prevailing today and rotting? How many sports-quota employees are truly representing the nation in major events like Olympics, CWG, Asian Games, National Games etc? The tragedy is that the sports-quota is being grossly abused only to get employment opportunities in the public and govt. sector – by which their future beyond retirement is secure.
    Corruption? – The less said – the better it is. This webpage isn’t enough to discuss this point.
    Incompetent people at the helm? – This, perhaps, is the root cause of your point no. 1 (Lack of Sporting Culture). One can hardly count the number of the sports, who have well-qualified and proven-track record holders, who are at the helm of the affairs. However, their portfolios are in obscurity, because of lack of support from various angles.
    Lack of funds? – There is no dearth of funds. It is all a question of mismanagement of funds. Everyone wants to go to Europe/USA for medical facilities (right from UPA chairperson) @ the tax payers’ expense, even when things are burning down back home. How many sports coaches/managers in India have been given the authority along with accountability? Tragedy is that there is no meaning in accountability without authority. All the top-notch ppl, who are sitting on the top corridors of power, have reached there by chamcha giri and boot licking and there are hardly a few who have the guts to call a spade – a spade. For that matter, even the mighty BCCI was brought down to their knees by their main sponsor for reasons known to the entire world of sport.
    Lack of Support at home? – Tagged along with lack of sporting culture
    Lack of Facilities? – Tagged along with lack of support at schools.
    Lack of social security? – In the past (70s, 80s), sportspersons used to be offered employments by the services sector such as Railways, Services, Banks etc. Not very sure, whether these are prevailing in the recent past. The broader issue is that, when the Govt. of India are collecting taxes from all walks of people, isn’t it the responsibility of the Govt. to provide them with pensions so that their future is secure? Tragically, the law makers are interested only in increasing their own kitty, but are least bothered in other cases. Whoever quoted this phrase, “India is poor – no doubt. But Indians are rich” – hats off to him/her.
    Lack of support at Schools? – Intertwined with lack of facilities, like hospitals, health care, dowry, conversions (resulting mainly in reservations) – this is another flourishing side-business with phenomenal rate of returns. How many schools have proper grounds, proper facilities, proper trainers and most importantly, resources? How many schools are ready to create proper grounds and maintain it? On the contrary, the existing lands – on which various grounds are standing, are being converted into buildings, multiplexes, offices etc, which fetch higher and faster rates of returns on investment. This problem is prevailing in most parts of the world. The only thing is that this gets noticed heavily in a sub-continent country like that of India, which boasts of the second largest population in the world.
    Couple of other important points which, I felt, could be added are: a) Poor planning i.e. planning w.r.t. utilization of resources, facilities, funds (which other countries are efficiently and effectively utilizing) [Wish to share an interesting article: http://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/article3632478.ece%5D and b) Very poor motivation right from the top levels. Specially, w.r.t. the Indian contingent, one can hardly find top officials sitting amidst the spectators cheering and motivating the athletes to excel and perform. There is a gross lack of impetus on their part, for the simple reason that they themselves aren’t athletes or sportspersons.
    To conclude, after the Olympics – in India, there wud b umpteen analysis, post-mortems, rolling of heads and all sorts of things happening b4 a lull sets in, while quite a good number of Chinese kids would hv already started heavily practising for the 2020 Olympics. This statement may sound rude but the fact of the matter is that: This is the truth

    • JayadevM
      August 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Anantha

      You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble by posting the link to the article here. But now readers get 2 articles for the price of one. 🙂

      Yes, we will have many analyses on the failure to produce medals. I guess most answers are known. We need to implement them.

      If we don’t start now in 2016 millions of other Indians and I will have to repeat this effort all over again.

      Let’s hope we don’t have to do that.

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