The teaching of the Ringmaster

Sandeep Roy

A ringmaster is a significant performer in many circuses. Most often seen in traditional circuses, the ringmaster is a master of ceremonies that introduces the circus acts to the audience. I have decided to become the ringmaster today and unfurl the circus in front of you. I am not talking about the traditional circus but the Olympics- the master of the five rings. The Olympic symbol – widely known throughout the world as the Olympic rings – is the visual ambassador of Olympism for billions of people. Based on a design first created by Pierre de Coubertin, the Olympic rings remain a global representation of the Olympic Movement and its activity. The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions (the Olympic rings), used alone, in one, or in five different colors. When used in its five-color version, these colors shall be, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The rings are interlaced from left to right; the blue, black, and red rings are situated at the top, the yellow and green rings are at the bottom in accordance with the following graphic reproduction. The Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games. These five rings represent the five parts of the world now won over to the cause of Olympism and ready to accept its fecund rivalries. What is more, the six colors thus combined reproduce those of all nations without exception.

India first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900, with a lone athlete Norman Pritchard winning two medals – both silver – in athletics and became the first Asian nation to win an Olympic medal. Indian athletes have won 35 medals, all at the Summer Games. For a period of time, India's national field hockey team was dominant in the Olympic competition, winning eleven medals in twelve Olympics between 1928 and 1980. The run included 8 gold medals in total and six successive gold medals from 1928–1956. Sushil Kumar became the first Indian athlete to win multiple individual Olympic medals since independence. In the 2000 Sydney Olympics two-time World Championship gold medalist Karnam Malleswari won a bronze medal in the Women's 69 kg weightlifting category. It was the first-ever Olympic medal won by an Indian woman. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Abhinav Bindra won gold in the Men's 10-meter air rifle event becoming the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. Vijender Singh got the country's first medal in boxing with his bronze medal in the Middleweight category. The 3 medal haul for India was the best till that year. Subsequently, the record was bettered to make it the third-best performance in history. Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal in badminton in Women's singles getting the country's first Olympic medal in badminton. Mary Kom became the first Indian woman to win a medal in boxing with her bronze medal in the Women's flyweight division. This was India's best performance till overtaken in 2020.

After the 2021 Olympics was over, we realized that we had sent two teams for the game, one to be on the field while the other was on social media. The first show showed a picture of Neeraj Chopra with our Honorable Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi in one frame with a caption that said “Nothing, just two best throwers in one image. #NeerajChopra.” Another user wrote “Haryana athletes have bagged maximum medals. What about neighboring ‘UDTA PUNJAB’? Just good for blocking roads.” Our best online participant wrote, “Australia’s Emma has won as many medals as our country single-handedly.” The nail on the coffin “Bangladesh doesn’t have an Olympic team because all those who can jump, run or swim have already crossed the border and entered India.” I challenge these social media participants to come and run five kilometers, everyone will get to know how easy it is to win a medal in the Olympics. Criticism is probably the easiest sport ever played and participated by most in our country. In the 2021 Olympics, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu secured silver in weightlifting. Neeraj Chopra won the gold in the Javelin, becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal in track and field and the second Indian to win an individual gold. In Men's Field Hockey, India won a bronze medal. This medal came after a gap of 41 years. Wrestler Ravi Dahiya won silver while Ace shuttler PV Sindhu, boxer Lovlina Borgohain and wrestler Bajrang Punia each brought a Bronze medal. The haul of 7 medals is the best performance for India in the Olympics history.

The father of modern Olympics, Pierre De Coubertin said “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” It seems many of our citizens have forgotten the essence of the Olympics. It takes dedication, hard work, and daily planning to be in the ring. Esther Williams, an American swimmer very rightly said “We can’t all win Olympic medals. Even I never won one.” We as a country need to ensure that our sportspersons are provided with the best of training and nutrition so that they can go prepared and compete with the best. We need to ensure that our children take up sports seriously as a profession, we need to encourage them. We cannot expect a miracle when our children attend only one sports class of forty minutes a week. We have to identify talent in our children and reduce their curricular activities so that they can focus on sports. If only we can do this, in the future we can see our children in the ring. I, the ringmaster, end my writing with a quote by Cory McGee, an American professional middle-distance runner, who said “I told myself when I arrived this week that no matter what happens, whether I made this team or not, my love for running wouldn’t change.”