THE curtain came down on the magnificent London Olympics on Sunday with the United States of America and China dominating the show, rather emphatically, followed by hosts Great Britain that finished third on the medals table. Over 10,000 athletes from 204 countries participated in the extravaganza which was the third hosted by London after the 1908 and 1948 editions. To the credit of the organisers, the Games were kept incident-free and, for once, politics and terrorism took a backseat as the world focused on the triumphs and tears of sport. Michael Phelps, arguably the greatest swimmer in history, soaked up the limelight as he ended his Olympic career with 22 medals, 18 of them gold. Usain Bolt of Jamaica was the other star: his unprecedented defence of his 100m and 200m sprint gold medals capped off with trademark exuberance and style. There were many others who did their respective countries proud by reaching the podium and by entering the record books as the outstanding sportspersons of their time.
The Games, however, were a sad reflection on the state of affairs in Pakistani sport. For a country of over 180 million people to not be able to fetch a single medal in the Olympic Games is shambolic. Even worse perhaps, it was expected. The complete Pakistan contingent comprised just 20 athletes, 16 of which were hockey players, and none could make the finals of their events. Following the dismal faring of the national contingent, there have been calls for replacing people at the helm of sports federations, for better planning and incentives for athletes and uplift of infrastructure. But so long as the will to excel and the determination to achieve something is lacking among the athletes and officials, nothing will really alter the dismal status quo.