I didn't know about Hima Das before she became India’s first world gold medallist on track. And just like me, most of Indians didn't know her until she achieved the milestone.
We treat a sports person or anyone who does good in a particular field as a hero, but we don't do enough to identify and nurture the lot, who can become future achievers.
In one of his interviews, Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri said that identifying the talent and nurturing the talent are two most important aspects of sports.
And the same rule applies to all areas - technology, academics, cinema and sports.
We ask youngsters to find inspiration in a star's struggle, but we don't work towards ensuring that talented individuals don't face much problems during their training period.
Sunil Chhetri had to literally plead people to support our own national football team. These same football fans argue for hours on social media about foreign footballers, who have never even been to India.
Remember the strength of the Pakistan cricket team during Imran Khan captaincy? The reason behind that was that they were identified and directly picked for the national team by Imran Khan himself.
From Wasim Akram to Inzamam-ul-Haq, identified by Imran Khan, they all played for Pakistan for a long time.
Pakistan Cricket was at its peak when Imran was the team captain and sadly has never reached the same level of professional brilliance since. Why? because he was the last captain who had this skill of identifying and nurturing a player at an early age.
Nurturing talent is an outcome of an overall culture of appreciation for our own selves and surroundings. And, we have failed in it miserably.
If we look at our recent Badminton players, Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi and many others - one thing is common among them and that is their academy. They all come from Gopichand Badminton Academy. These players were nurtured in a good environment and they have performed notably well in various tournaments.
India's current population stands at 1.5 billion, the second most populous country following China. But we are getting scarce medals in the Olympic Games.
Counting by population, we rank the last in Olympic medal number, India got only two medals in the 2016 Olympics, while none were gold and Ranked 67th in the medal tally.
These two medals were awarded only to female athletes, a silver to badminton player PV Sindhu in the women's singles, and a bronze to freestyle wrestler Sakshi Malik.
Now, think for a while how many girls in your surrounding are actively and professionally participating in sports.
I am sure there will be no answer.
Lack of infrastructure, funds for training, poor nutritional status , poverty are major reasons for us not doing well in sports.
India currently doesn’t have a system to identify young talent. We need to promote sports education in India.
Parents want their children to become doctors, engineers or accountants but sports talents would be persuaded by family and even teachers to not take up sports as a career option.
Niti Aayog also wants India to give “equal priority” to sports as other academic subjects.
With new schemes and Sports University Bill, the government has exhibited its intention to expand India’s sporting profile globally. However, what these policies will prompt in the near future is another thing altogether.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)