Less than a year from now, Indonesian capital Jakarta will be the stage everyone will be looking at, and unlike the gaffes past Sports Ministers committed putting Indian athletes to shame, the new occupant of the Sports and Youth Affairs seat at Shastri Bhavan should provide the much needed confidence.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has been there and done that-from winning Olympic medal to steer Indian shooting out of slumber when he became first Indian athlete to win an Olympic medal in shooting-a silver at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
On Sunday, September 3, Rathore was appointed Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs and no one but him richly deserved the seat after fairing well as Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Rathore elevation made him first athlete to become the country’s Sports Minister, as we approach one of the busiest year for sports in 2018. The coming will see two of the biggest multi-sports extravaganzas on the menu-Asian Games in Jakarta and the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast in Australia.
Knowing Rathore as a double trap shooter since mid 90s, it was a learning experience as the then Army Colonel spared enough time to explain the nuances of shooting, especially shotgun shooting.
The discipline that made him an Olympic medallist in 2004 is no longer an Olympic sport, but he is highly respected in the sporting circles for his achievements and discipline that he imbibed from army.
Waning interest in Double trap and the International Olympic Committee’s approach towards gender equality has put Rathore’s discipline on the backburner as very few women took to this more difficult of trap shooting.
The outgoing Sports Minister Vijay Goel almost had an egg on his face when he took non-accredited staff into the sporting arena in Rio despite being stopped by the Olympic security guards. That the Rio Games Organising Committee issued a warning to withdraw Goel’s accreditation if same was repeated again was warning enough for him to take the flight home.
Ajay Maken in Manmohan Singh’s era during 2012 London Olympic Games was no better. Whichever events he visited and watched in person he expected medals from Indian athletes and made his displeasure evident to the covering media.
The worst case was Shahnawaz Khan in the Atal Behari Vajpayee’s second tenure at Prime Minister. In 2000 Sydney Olympics Shahnawaz rebuked boxer Gurcharan Singh just outside the ring after he lost the quarterfinal bout and a chance to confirm at least a bronze medal.
Armyman Gurcharan Singh went into depression and left India for the US to join professional boxing and till date he is classified as ‘deserter’ by the Indian Army.
In that backdrop, athletes will expect much different approach from Rathore as he “is one amongst them.”
Some of the reactions to Rathore’s appointment also give the positive vibes.
Delighted to see @Ra_THORe is the new sports minister . All the very very best !
#cabinetreshuffle two appointments i m really excited about...
1. @Ra_THORe as our Sports Minister 2. @nsitharaman as our Defence Minister
An inspirational Olympic medal winner as our new Sports Minister. Good times ahead for Indian sport. Congratulations @Ra_THORe
I wish to congratulate @Ra_THORe on your new new role and I wish you every success in your new duties.#CabinetReshuffle