India won its most medals ever at the Commonwealth Games, placing second in the gold medal tally and third overall. But this should not be viewed as a feather in the cap of the Indian government.
The country shone because of the talent and drive of a few athletes and coaches, who excelled despite—and not because of—the chaotic sports bureaucracy.
As Pullela Gopichand, India’s badminton coach, said in an interview with me in the weeks leading up to the games: “There is no consistency in leadership in the Indian government in sports, and as a result, planning for the future of sports is largely absent.”
There is no question that with better governance in sport, more Indian athletes would have won medals. To reward the country’s athletes, the government should find the courage to take on the politically-connected sports federation heads and reform the nation’s fossilized sports bureaucracies. Otherwise, this Commonwealth Games will not mark the beginning of a new age of Indian sports achievement—but the peak of Indian sporting prowess for decades to come.
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