Pug-marks of Indian Sport

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More than fifty years back a mundane Sikh man ran the race of his life. He did not win a medal. But the footsteps left by him remains in-erasable in the mind of crores of Indians. The memory was so strong that a biopic which hit the silver screen after sixty years became a runaway hit. He inspires the Indian youth even today.

More than thirty years back a plain Jane woman from rural Kerala joined the Indian team to participate in an event which was making its debut in Olympics. 400 metres hurdles was a new event in Olympics, but that did not stop this lady from giving her best. Because she was the first Indian woman to have entered the final race in an Olympics track and field event. She lost out a medal by one hundredth of a second due to her naivety, not knowing how to finish with a surge. But that little surge she missed inspired a whole new generation of Indian woman to surge towards a sporting career. Her tiny shoes has left an indelible mark, which even today the ladies in this country fail to fill up.

Years have passed, and a Hyderbadi girl has fought the odds and a Burqa to win at all the surfaces the game of tennis could be played on. Sania Mirza represents the new age woman who do not care a damn about society imposed false ceilings. Her tiny shoes was stronger than a grenade to break open the glass ceilings in Indian sport and also in the conservative mind of Indians.

Here is another girl also with a Hyderabad connection, who fought the female foeticide the Jats in Haryana are infamous for, to clinch the world number one slot in Badminton. Saina Nehwal has left an imposing shoe mark in the minds of all misogynists in India, however tiny it may be, but the nation would love it forever.

On the day the world celebrates the beginning of yet another Olympics I would say three cheers to these tiny shoe marks that have lifted Indian spirit to a new orbit.

“Tiny Shoes” for some, but a giant benchmark for a billion people.

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