The eyes of the world will be on London as the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games kicks off tonight, with excitement around the world reaching fever pitch as the mega event sets into action. Avid fans, not only from the US, the UK, China and Europe, but also from countries like Jamaica, Kenya, Morocco, Iran, India and even Afghanistan, will be rooting for their athletes, who have put in their utmost efforts preparing for the various disciplines in which they will be taking part.
It is sad to see that the Pakistani contingent has little hope of winning an Olympics medal — unless, of course, we witness a major surprise in the coming weeks. The place on the hockey podium that was once anticipated before every edition of the mega event is now no longer a surety. A Herculean effort will be required by the Greenshirts to pull off a medal-winning performance, which though unlikely, cannot be ruled out entirely, considering that the national team ended up being crowned the Asian Games champions in 2010 when no one gave it a chance of doing so. What is also true is that despite our immense potential in other disciplines, very little effort has been invested to nurture it. Sporting federations have failed to perform their key duties, many citing a lack of funds as a key reason for this. Pakistan has boxing talent in Lyari, footballing talent in various pockets and a flair for volleyball in the country’s north which, if harnessed, could give us hope of shining at the international level in the future. Indeed, if a proper sporting programme was instituted and implemented, there is no reason to believe that we could not do better at athletics, swimming and a host of other events at the Games.
The sight of an athlete with a medal around his or her neck raises national pride and lights up the image of that country. Pakistan certainly needs its image to be brightened up. Sports would appear to offer hope in this direction. However, the failure to nurture talent effectively means that in this particular edition of the Games, we have limited hopes of our contingent bringing back a medal. This is a failure we simply must not accept but instead we must work diligently towards reversing this state of affairs.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.