When it comes to sports, India is fortunate that its athletes find a way to overcome the impediments that its officialdom throws in their paths—whole areas fraught with politics and unprofessionalism. If India is winning medals at the Asian Games, it has been possible in spite of official bungling, due to athletes’ own talent, resilience and steely determination. The government does provide facilities and exposure, but it’s a mite compared to the odds athletes face.
Many of the stories of the Games medal winners so far, and those who may or may not win, are tales of victories carved through adversity.
From being ‘baptised’ on a mud track in his village Chakkitttapara in Kozhikode district of Kerala, Jinson Johnson has come a long way—today he is Asia’s top-ranked 800m runner. After shattering the 800m and 1500m national records recently, his confidence is on an all-time high; he’s now eying the Asian Games podium in the two races.
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The two-time Asian medallist clocked 1:45.65 sec in 800m at the National Inter-State Athletics Championships in Guwahati in June to shatter legendary Shri Ram Singh’s 42-year-old national record of 1:45.77 sec, set at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. In April, at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Johnson clocked 3:37.86sec in 1500m to finish fifth, but still broke the 23-year-old national record by Bahadur Prasad (3:38.00sec). “Breaking the national...