Indians Choke on big stages ?
Indians Choke on big stages ? Image Courtesy: BloombergQuint

Why Indians choke on the big stage ?

Indians have had a great track record at home. No matter what sport it is, Indians are always ‘sher‘ (read Lion) at home. Be it the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 or the commonwealth games, we have done exceedingly well in such tournaments. Though there have been some hiccups during such tournaments, the teams have performed well during the tournament on a whole. However there have been times when the Indians have ‘choked’ at crucial stages. How about the infamous loss of the Indian Cricket team against Bangladesh that knocked them out of the world cup ? Or the loss of the Indian Men’s Hockey team against the arch rivals Pakistan in the recently concluded South Asian Games in February 2016 ? Indian teams choke at the world stage, take Rio 2016 for instance. Indians have been trying hard but their efforts were in vain.

Indians Choke on big stages ?
Heena Sidhu after her loss. Image Courtesy: Bloomberg Quint

Even though this year India has sent in the largest Olympics contingent which should technically have improved our chances of winning medals, things have been heading south since the start of Rio 2016. Most of the matches the Indians played at Rio 2016 have been close fights – from the last 3 seconds goal loss of the Indian Men’s hockey team to Germany, the close fight of the Women’s Archery Team against Russia or the tiebreaker (read heart-breaking) loss of Abhinav Bindra for Bronze. On the flip side there has been some bad games at the Shooting arena and the Tennis court, [Must Read: Double Fault at Rio 2016] which everyone would surely want to forget !

Abhinav Bindra's heart breaking loss. Image Courtesy: Mid-Day
Abhinav Bindra’s heart breaking loss. Image Courtesy: Mid-Day

I’ve been wondering as to Why Indians Choke at the big stage ? It’s not that the players aren’t provided world-class facilities (agree that there are many who are deprived of this, but things are improving) or don’t have enough practice, there are a lot of other things which lead to failure of the teams at the time that matters the most ! Here are a few points I would put forward as to Why Indians Choke at the big stage especially at Rio 2016 ?

Apart from Cricket there isn’t much of International outings for other sports with respect to the frequency and duration of the stay overseas. Indian teams do participate in various World Championships and other international games. However it’s only for these events that the teams fly out to alien environment where they have to prove their mettle. There aren’t many ‘friendlies’ taking place round the year in various sports – especially outdoor sports. Sports like Hockey, Archery, Trap Shooting and other field games should have more foreign exposure so that they get more practice in the different environments. This will ensure that players get accustomed to various environments that will help them perform better at the stage when it matters the most and not choke.

Indian Women's Hockey team's choke against Britain. Image Courtesy: TOI
Indian Women’s Hockey team’s loss against Britain. Image Courtesy: TOI

Further, there is a lot of pressure and expectation from players. Hardly anyone would have known Dattu Bhokanal, Atanu Das or even Dipa Karmakar before the start of Rio 2016. (For those of you living under the rock, Dattu Bhokanal is only the 9th Indian Rower to feature in Olympics and the only one to qualify for Rio 2016. Atanu Das is an Ace Indian Archer while Dipa Karmakar is the first Indian woman to qualify for the finals of a Gymnastic event at Olympics ever) Today these rising heroes face an uphill task due to the high expectations of a billion people. Hopes of the entire nation are on these players to win. Be it on social media sites like Twitter where most of these players have been trending during their events, or at the venue, they have a strong fan support. It is this pressure cooker situation these players haven’t been exposed to ever during their career. Not only the young debutants but also the experienced folks fail to deliver at crucial times to this ‘unseen’ pressure that they have to cope up with. Indian fans – even with 0 knowledge of a particular sport – turn into critics in a matter of minutes of watching a game and soon into a coach ! 

Also the lack of experience is an area of concern. Most of the Indian teams have young legs but lack experience of playing at big occasions. Unfortunately it’s that time when most of the experienced players are retiring from the sport leaving the team vulnerable and hence tend to choke at crucial moments. Most of the teams are in the transition periodas it is called in sports – when young players join the team and senior pros hang up their boots . And frankly there’s not much we can do about this . It would be nice if coaches are always on the lookout for taking new players and giving them opportunity to play. That way they will gain experience of playing at the world stage along side getting valuable insights from senior pros in the team. This will also ensure that the ‘transition period’ doesn’t last long and we have the perfect balance of agility and experience.

Indian Men's Hockey team lost the game in the last 3 seconds ! Image courtesy: First Post
Indian Men’s Hockey team lost the game in the last 3 seconds ! Image courtesy: First Post

It has been almost a week and the Indian Medal Account at Rio 2016 is still not open while others have already hit the double-digit mark ! But still we haven’t lost hope. With the likes of Mixed Doubles in Tennis, Boxing, Wrestling and Badminton still left to step into the spotlight, we can surely expect a few wins in the time to come. As Indian fans have to support our players at every moment. Even though we aren’t in Rio we surely can make some noise on Social Media that will keep our players boosted ! So hit Twitter or Facebook and share a post supporting our athletes at Rio 2016 ! 

Chak de India !! Cheer for our Khiladis !

About Atulmaharaj

A seasoned blogger and a content marketer for close to a decade now. I write about Food, Technology, Lifestyle, Travel, and Finance related posts. Blogging brings me joy and the best part is I get to read and e-meet so many amazing bloggers! PS: I'm also the founder for :) Favorite Quote: "Traveling is like reading a book, one who hasn't traveled, hasn't turned a page.

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  1. I cannot agree with you more on this and the aggressiveness that we need to see from the players is also woefully missing, I arrive at this pessimistic outlook after witnessing the lacklustre performance of the mens’ hockey team against Canada. Yes, the expectations from all the sportsmen are sky high with the fourth estate adding fuel to fire. But, frankly when there is pressure of this stature, I think the performance has to peak as I strongly opine that high levels of stress bring the best out of an individual! We have immense talent on paper in many sporting disciplines that are not translating into medals and the reasons can only be attributed to what you have brought out here. Despite the best sporting talent in couple of events, a podium finish seems to be a distant dream. But I am still keeping my fingers crossed as miracles do happen when you least expect them to!

    • On paper the Indian contingent is strong but yes as you said, they aren’t able to convert it to medals. Still a week to go, let’s hope to win some medals.

  2. Superb analysis Maharaj. Yes, Indians choke on the big stage. And reasons you pointed out are very correct. I still believe they lack infrastructue for training (except for a few glamourous sports). Secondly, they train a lot and with good coaches but they train mostly on the home ground whereas is spots like olympics, story is completely different and difficult. Also, sports should become a culture and not just medal-seeking activity that gears up only before olympics/asian/commonwealth. I like that we now have kabbadi and hockey being screened on the prime time. As much as I dislike cricket IPL, I look forward to these alternates. And lets not even start with social pressure. We are an expert at judging them from our AC drawing rooms where we tell our kids to pursue only cricket (pardon me, if you are a cricket fan). But I am not losing hope right away. 10 more days to go . There will be some rocking performances, if not medals I am sure. (Wait, is that a comment or a mini-post).

    • Thanks Deepaliji for your views. I agree that sports should become a culture and this will happen when sports are given equal importance at school level. Yes I am a cricket fan, and I totally agree that children should be able to play whatever they want. 10 more days and many more sports still to start, I’m not losing hope too. We will get a medal soon. And as far as the length of the comment is concerned, this is not Twitter so your comment doesn’t have to be limited to 140 characters 😉 Thanks again for stopping by !

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