Chazhur V. Gangadharan
It would be worthwhile to have a peep into the past, which moulded the very concept of Olympic games, centuries ago. The great souls who conceived such a noble idea must have been watching the events from their dwelling places in the high heavens! Every heart must have been praying to the great gods of the Mount Olympus, as well as to Parthenos Maria of the Modern Greek faith, for a happy and memorable happening of the Athens 2004.
I had the good opportunity of coming to Athens some six hundred days ahead of the scheduled start of the Athens 2004, and of being a part of the population subsequently. I was all the more lucky to stay in an apartment very close to its main stadium in Marousi.
The moment I had stepped in the great soil of Greece, I used to feel as if a mystical spell had been around me, a powerful feeling as if I am under the influence of some metaphysical charge of the magical past. Whenever I used to pass by the gate of the main Olympic Stadium, the neon signboard used to come to life in the night, reminding the number of days elapsed to see the mega show in August 2004.
Though, in the beginning, many had their own apprehensions about the possibility of completion of all the pending building works in tune with the schedule of the games, it looked as if some miracle had happened and the whole set-up was “DONE”, to the pleasant surprise. When I raised this query to a couple of friends, some twenty months ago, I used to get the reply “we Greeks have a special way of doing things at the eleventh hour and you will see that everything is done in the end”. It really seemed to be true. Now, one could see the completeness in almost all fronts, still with a few more days left ahead before the opening of the historic event.
The reality of winning of the Euro 2004 by the Greeks had probably boosted their zest for completion of the works. For the closing one month, it had been the real work site, the round the clock construction activities everywhere. In the dead of the night also I could hear the noise of the grinding wheels and the beats of the hammer blows in the not so far main stadium.
The sporting spirit among the Greeks dates back to some 8500 years on the history, when only a very few human civilizations existed of any redeemable quality level. I have in mind the great Egyptian, the Persian, the Babylonian and the great Indus Valley Civilization, the nectar of which is relished by Indians even this day.
It is into this global gathering that India was sending its team of athletes and sportspersons to show and exhibit their individual skills with the sole purpose of winning gold and other medals as well as much as they could. The Indian contingent had strength of XX, xx of it being the participants and the remaining number, the managers.
The team was very lucky to have the Honourable Minister for Sports, Sunil Dutt, apart from Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and the India Olympics Committee Chairman, Suresh Kalamadi to inspire them and to infuse sporting spirit. They made it a point to meet all the contestants and to motivate them, collectively and individually. They stayed with the team for varying periods ranging from a few days to a fortnight.
I had the good fortune of having a dialogue with one of the managers, Mr. Sharma, well before a fortnight of the events. He was highly enthusiastic about the outcome that he results and his expected tally of the assorted medals was at least ten.
I consider myself lucky to had had the fortune of visiting some of the venues in Greece, giving me the moments in my mind for admiring the sheer skills of the hands and the clear minds which went behind the thoughts of creation of the edifices and the marvellous manner in which they executed their projects.
One has to pity the events of “developments” that lead to such a dismal disappearance of all such great things the wise men did with so much love and affection. Athens too was vandalized many a time in the history. Groups came, groups went; but the city remained, remained in its own magnificent style, rightly to host this session of the historic event/happening, refreshing the cherished memories of the past, how their elders thought of and brought them to reality, how the international (inter-city-states, in those days) assembly of skills could be converged and promoted. History says that even bloody wars being waged among the city-states were temporarily shelved, in order to facilitate the mighty heroes of the sports to assemble, participate and compete in the games and exhibit their excellence.
The prominent among them was Anju Bobby George, the “long jumper”, and of course, the hockey team. All the eyes were focused on to Anju, she being the star attraction of the meet, and on whom the whole country had high hopes of seeing the gold. There were high speculations and due to that fact alone, there were long coverage of it in the media, back home as well. The other hopes area was the hockey event. But as bad luck would have it, she could not come to the top three, even though she outdid her personal performance.
As a pleasant surprise, the shooting team came successful with a silver medal, the winner being Capt. Singh. There is much more for India to achieve in the sporting field, both in the domestic as well as in the international levels.