Six words, uttered in less than 10 seconds. But how long had we we waited to hear these words? For how many years, we had seen or heard Indian sportspeople flattering to deceive, missing medals by milliseconds, losing battles that should've been won, even missing to match their own personal bests. But as you see in this video, those days are finally laid to rest. Even as silver medalist Zhu from China wept in dismay, Abhinav stepped onto the podium, becoming the first Indian to do so in individual capacity. I had a lump in my throat as the flag rose, with the national anthem playing in the background. Twenty-eight years of wasted opportunity, with one final redemption.
We are not out of the woods yet. While we celebrate the single gold won by a billion people, we should pause to think why we didn't win in some proportion to our population.
Still, this medal is a landmark event. It proves the fact that we are not doomed to fail in sport. It proves that with the right kind of support, Indian sportsmen and women can bring glory to the country. And it proves, that unlike dictatorships, the only way to produce sportspeople of high calibre in a democracy is through individual initiative, with a supportive role from the government and from industry.
With badminton's Saina, the boxing Kumars, and the shooting stars showing the way, this may still be a new dawn for Indian sport. But is the government listening? Is our nonagenarian HRD minister willing to pull his head out of the reservation muck for long enough to see the faint rays of the morning sun?
If history is any guide, I'd doubt it. However, democracies thrive on individual initiative, and for the first time in our nation's history, we have companies and individuals with the money and the motivation to drive Indian sport forward. Let's hope they come forward and find for us, India's place in the Olympic sun in 2012.