Boys who practice wrestling hold up a box of sweets as they celebrate Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar's win. -Photo by Reuters

NEW DELHI: India on Monday tried to look on the bright side after collecting just six medals and no golds at the Olympics, saying that the modest haul was a record and efforts were already under way to improve.

The country has a dire history at the Olympics, winning only one individual gold medal, in Beijing in 2008, and this year finishing a lowly 55th in the overall medals table, sandwiched between Venezuela and Mongolia.

But the government and media hailed the two silvers and four bronzes brought home by India, which has enjoyed rapid economic development over the past two decades and has a booming population of 1.2 billion people.

“India was unlucky as many of the players were placed in the top ten, some even fourth or fifth,” Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters.

“It is a proud moment for us as this is our best-ever medal haul.”

He added that improved training programmes were now in place and that India should look to win at least 25 medals by 2020.

“Tally Ho: India returns biggest-ever medal haul at the Olympics,” declared the Mail Today, while the NDTV station said the six gongs – double the collection in Beijing – had triggered nationwide celebrations.

But the Hindustan Times gave a more downbeat assessment, saying that it was a poor outcome for one of the world's most vibrant economies. Asian rival China, with a similarly vast population and growing affluence, brought home 87 medals.

“Even by the country's modest sporting standards, it is a story of under-achievement,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial.

“To make a mark at the Olympics, we need to emulate countries at par with us economically, not the ones we've left behind.”

Optimism over India's prospects in London 2012 grew after shooter Abhinav Bindra won the 10m air rifle in Beijing, making history as the country's first individual gold medallist.

Several government and privately funded schemes poured money into finding future stars, but the search turned up little to impress the world audience gathered in London.

Wrestler Sushil Kumar and pistol shooter Vijay Kumar won silvers, while wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, rifle marksman Gagan Narang, woman boxer Mary Kom and badminton star Saina Nehwal collected bronzes.

Bindra failed to get through the qualifying round.

India's hockey team – which once dominated the Olympics with eight golds – also showed no signs of returning to the top.

“It can't get worse, our hockey is dead,” said former goalkeeper Leslie Claudius, who played in four consecutive Olympics from 1948 to 1960.

Despite the lavish cash prizes and jobs promised to medallists, the Olympics remains a low priority in a country obsessed by cricket.

One leading businessman laced his congratulations with a call for change.

“We are proud of our Olympic medallists, but enough of this humiliation of 6 medals amongst 1.2bn people,” Anand Mahindra tweeted.


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Comments (20) Closed




RKS
Aug 17, 2012 04:34pm
If Pakistan can only give up its nefarious designs of terrorism against India, the two countries can scale down this needless spending on armed forces. The money can be divereted for development, including sports. Wake up Pakistan, you are heading towards disaster and trying to pull your neighbours along with you. Such a sick mentality will ruin pakistan. If cricket became an olympic sport, then see how China will win a gold medal in 4 years. India and pakistan can then play gilli-danda.
sawan kumar
Aug 13, 2012 12:23pm
areh pakistani bhai olympic toh khatam hoo gya hai....aab kiyo "jale par namak chidak rahey" ho..?
john
Aug 19, 2012 09:35pm
well done India , Pakistan should learn some lessons from you . Talent is in every country, all are humans , its the opportunity to nourish them which counts . Till the time pakistan is infested with a dire virus of corrouption , we will never progress in any feild and the decline in Pakistan sport is a direct consequence of our degrading moral standards.
comdexsys
Aug 19, 2012 05:16pm
since 1947 ...... both India and Pakistan ....... won Just "16 medals bY india" and "10 by Pakistan". if we do comparison of both countries in term of the resources ..... Pakistan Performance is better than India. any How ..... i liked the article ....... its gud to learn about our own country where it stand.......... always think Postive
Shahid
Aug 13, 2012 02:24pm
take it easy man, Pakistan went medal-less.
Anup
Aug 13, 2012 02:32pm
How many medals won by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri-Lanka, Myanmar etc. So, in comparison India not bad, but not enough for sure.
dr vimal raina
Aug 13, 2012 02:50pm
We Indians believe in real gold, that we import in tons per year. Who cares about gold plated medals that come for a dime?
Reader
Aug 13, 2012 03:49pm
see where this article is coming from? 180 millions of population and 0 medal.
Hindustani
Aug 13, 2012 04:22pm
dear pakistani brothers we are already ashamed of our performance, but still trying to celebrate what ever meager results we achieved in London. Instead of critical both countries should try hard to perform better in RIo.
Sandeep
Aug 13, 2012 09:29pm
A success is a success...6medals not bad at all for country like India!!! Atleast we are improving after every olympics!! unlike some other countries..who only talks but wins nothing.... winning something is always better than nothing!!!
Khan
Aug 13, 2012 11:39pm
Pakistan population is not second to China. Compair yourself with them and see where you stand among the developed nations. I guess I forgot that you are the most underdevelpoe country.
Mehmet
Aug 14, 2012 01:33am
At least painting a bleak picture of other countries is not going to help Pakistan. This is poor journalism!
RAMADMINLLAH
Aug 14, 2012 05:29am
Pakistan and India both have talent but there attitude towards game and politicization hassled the entire mentality..you guys will always fight for Terror and Kashmir only...The rest of world will fight for here dignity... Best of luck both the countries...Fight another 100 years...push your people in mud..All the Best...
Salman
Aug 14, 2012 07:41am
Sorry there was no sports related to Millitancy and Terrorism otherwise Pakistan would surely have won GOLD, SILVER AND BRONZE :)
Manoj
Aug 14, 2012 09:33am
Poor chap............!
Anup
Aug 15, 2012 01:25am
That's what I am saying, we are not comparable with China or USA but not with all subcontinent countries. We are in between and trying to progress slowly.
liza
Aug 15, 2012 08:36am
look who's talking?? how many medals did pakistan win?? zero.. if you stop criticizing India and stop teaching your kids how to bomb and kill innocents you guys could win a few too..
liza
Aug 15, 2012 08:37am
well there is shooting, and pakistanis love to reverse engineer Chinese make AK 47's dont they??
Raj
Aug 17, 2012 06:39am
look whos talking..... a citizen of Pakistan calling us underdeveloped....yes u r rt Mr. Khan we dont hv terror camps as your country hve... kids in my nation only dream to join NASA ISRO or II, TATA., WIPRO, INFOSYS etc... wht about Pakistani kids....oh they must be dreaming about which terror camp is better .....u r absolutely r t Mr. Khan keep it up
din
Aug 17, 2012 09:17pm
I agree.....and not a sportsperson/team in any final even.....