For a really long time, Indians were deemed unfit and their thin-fat body type (less muscle and more fat) was being blamed for their lack of athleticism.
Sports medicine specialists also blamed the poor proportion of right muscles amongst Indians as the primary reason that often left us playing the second fiddle to born athletes like the Africans and the Caucasians.
If our dubious body structure kept us lagging behind, the lack of infrastructure and proper training facilities further spelt the doom of Indian athletes at coveted tournaments like the Olympic Games. But, thankfully, that's no longer the case.
Though it's still a long way to go, there is no doubt that the times have changed in India, which is now taking rapid strides in sports (especially athletics) at the global level.
The training facilities have improved, the athletes are now being nurtured from a young age and the availability of sports specialists has allowed Indian sportspersons to achieve their full potential. All of those pivotal changes were on full display at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang last month.
Going into the event with 572 athletes in its contingent, India registered its best ever performance at the Games. Bolstered by a record-breaking performance by its athletes, India finished their campaign in Indonesia with 69 medals including 15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze. It was an outing that was cherished by billions of fans back home and earned plaudits from the bigwigs in Indian sports.
Almost a month later, India's historic Asian Games showing seems to have inspired the budding athletes to prove their mettle at the ongoing 2018 Summer Youth Olympics. Boasting of 47 athletes across 13 sports, India has begun its campaign on a positive note in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
When the youth become an inspiration. Many Congratulations to our future-
Jeremy Lalrinnunga for India's first ever GOLD at the #YouthOlympics and also to Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Choudhary for their historic Gold. #BuenosAires2018 . pic.twitter.com/F0SDGwYiUl
The Indian young guns have been on a prolific run early on in the tournament. The likes of Tushar Mane (shooting), Tababi Devi Thangjam (judo) and Mehuli Ghosh (shooting) have all made the nation proud by bagging silver medals. But, it's India's consistency to clinch the yellow metal in the ongoing event that has captured the imagination of their fans. In a mere four days, India has already won three gold medals - a performance that has elated Indian fans.Jeremy Lalrinnunga
"The only thing on my mind is a gold medal, nothing else will make me happy. I am going to Argentina with a strong belief that I can win gold. I have been lifting some good weights during the training sessions and there's this positive energy around me," Jeremy Lalrinnunga had said during Indian contingent's send-off ceremony for the Summer Youth Olympics. And, on 9th October, the 15-year-old weightlifter delivered the goods in a sensational manner.
Congratulations to Jeremy Lalrinnunga (IND) ð®ð³ for the first-ever gold medal for India at the Youth Olympic Games #YouthOlympics #GameChangers #WinningWednesday #BuenosAires2018 @ioaindia pic.twitter.com/ZvWHNg3WSU— Olympics (@Olympics) October 10, 2018
The Mizoram lad gave India it's first-ever gold medal at the Youth Olympics after lifting a total of 274kg (124kg snatch & 150kg clean and jerk) to edge past his opponents in the men's 62kg weightlifting competition. If his gold-medal finish isn't enough to make him stand out, the fact that he lifted more weight than senior men's team weightlifter Raja Muthupandi, who lifted a total of 266kg (snatch & clean and jerk) at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, earned him the tag of 'Ironman' at the tender age of 15.Manu Bhaker
If Jeremy opened India's account of gold medals at the tournament, Manu Bhaker ensured that tally kept going up. The 16-year-old became the first Indian shooter to win a gold medal at the Youth Olympics after clinching the yellow metal in the women's 10m air pistol event.
The pistol shooter from Haryana shot 236.5 in the eight-woman final to clinch the gold medal. She finished 0.6 point ahead of silver medallist Lana Enina from Russia. While her prolific performance gave India its second gold in the tournament, it also helped the young girl regain her confidence following her medal-less finishes at the Asian Games and World Shooting Championships earlier this year.Saurabh Chaudhary
After a terrific run on Tuesday, Saurabh Chaudhary added another gold to India's medal tally in Argentina. For someone who became senior Asian Games champion and junior World Champion earlier this year, the Meerut pistol shooter lived up to the expectations with yet another brilliant performance, this time at the Youth Olympics.
Plying his trade in the men's 10m air pistol event, the 16-year-old didn't break a sweat as he shot 244.2 in the eight-man final to clinch the yellow metal. The teenager already holds the juniors' final world record of 245.5 (1.9 point more than the seniors' record - 243.6). And, on 10th October, he once again made a mockery of seniors' final world record by 0.6 point.