Indian runners…

I have always wondered when will we ever win a track and field gold medal in the 100 mts /200 mts/ 400 mts / marathon, basically any event where we have to run at the Olympics. I have been wondering this ever since I was a kid.Of course, I only wondered about it and never did anything concrete of converting my bewilderment into action and sat on my couch thinking about our inability to win a track and field gold medal. Probably a billion others too sit and wonder about the same thing. Is this the reason?I think I can wash away a bit of my guilt by saying I play tennis and I have to necessarily run.Yes, a majority are couch potatoes, a greater majority are couch commentators and by far the greatest majority are couch athletes who shuffle their weight from one part of their posterior to the other and exercise their fingers with the remote. Watching TV is by far becoming the greatest workout to the average person.

Running is something we are so poor at. Why cant Indian’s run like the Jamaicans and the Americans or even malnourished Kenyans? Is it a genetic issue? Can we blame our ancestors for our shoddy performances at every Olympics. When I was a kid I asked the wise ” Why do black men win marathons all the time?”. The wise replied back that the Africans run fast because they have been running to the nearest well ever since they were born, they needed to get there before the water evaporates, hence their speed is quicker than the latent heat of vaporization. I have imagined Kenyans running for water every time I see them tirelessly run at the mega marathon events. When the African athletes got water packets after a few kilometres during a marathon, they always looked gratified as they looked up to the heavens and shook their heads.Forget about running at marathons, renowned cricket players like Dravid tarnishes his record with his running between the wickets. There is a mammoth struggle to reach the other side of a teeny-weeny pitch too.

We excel in activities where we have to throw our weight around quite literally. Weightlifting, boxing, wrestling. The shooting gold was a blessing. If  Bindra had to run and shoot, I doubt we would have bagged the gold. Thank God, that was not to be. Let’s forget basking in our olympic glories in hockey, it was a team event and the last win is far too back in time. There was once upon a time a Milka Singh , we proudly called him the “flying sikh”. When I heard this term during a general knowledge session in school, I was proud that an Indian invented the airplane. The credit was snatched away from the Wright brothers by a flying Sikh. Milka Singh’s offspring plays golf now. The genes have gone a bit astray here, the legendary Milka Singh’s son too does not want to run, he is milking money in golf instead. No need to run in golf, just amble around lazily on an eighteen hole course the whole day. A great sport for Indians who like to think they are getting a work out and terms like birdies, eagles and albatross makes the player sound light, fit and fast. Indian golfers ignore the fact that the bird names are only scoring terminologies and not an adjective. Fact of the matter is, every Indian passive or active golfer is so out of shape that his beer belly remains the biggest obstacle on the course. Not a swinging matter.

The only state where God has been a bit partial to has been Kerala. There was a Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha. We gave her a name too, we called her “Payyoli Express”. When an Indian can run a bit, the first thing we do is give them fast sounding aliases that either sound like planes or trains, neither are on time for the Olympics. Then after coining great names, we forget their very existence. When was the last time I remember PT Usha or Shiny Wilson or Ashwini Nanchappa carry the torch representing India? We prefer showcasing SRK and Akshay Kumar as the finest athletes India has ever produced. With their six packs they can be passed off as that too. The greatest runners in the country as per Reebok are Bipasha and Dhoni who ran over cars and trucks for the advert shoot in Hong Kong a few months back.

Is there hope for India in this event at the next olympics? Can we stand on the podium in a packed olympic stadium and win a gold at a running competition while the national anthem reverberates at the background? I am determined we can. Just like the way Aamir Khan revolutionized cricket and beat the white man in his own game by training a bunch of villagers we have a bunch waiting to be trained hard.This country has produced a lot of fast runners on the contrary who have not participated in official track and field events. We must get them together and train them hard for the next olympics. They will leave the flying Sikhs and the Payolli expresses in their wake. There is Ramalinga Raju, the champion from Hyderabad. He ran a marathon for fifteen years, he trains at the Chanchalgutta jail now, he occasionally plays badminton with his team mates, his chief financial officer Srinivas Vadlamani and the failed Krushi Banks chairman Venkateswara Rao to keep himself fit. Then there is Koda who did the cross-country across the entire state of Jharkhand and works out diligently in his cell, waiting for his call. Khetan Parekh is a fast boy too, he trained with the bulls and the bears and has raised the bar. Telgi stamps around with his foot like an impatient horse desperate to represent our country at the next Olympics. Remember Nalini, no, not another one from Kerala, an imported product from Sri Lanka who scampered across Tamil Nadu with quick gun Murugun after blowing up Rajiv. She is so keen that she threatens to swallow cyanide if she is not sent on the next mission. She is said to be training with a few Italians. With so many keen athletes waiting to take us to the next level at the Olympics Suresh Kalmadi, the erstwhile President of the Indian Olympic Association can take it easier now. He can continue diverting the sporting funds of this country to pay Bollywood actors for carrying the torch or dancing at opening ceremonies or for carrying our flag at the closing ceremonies or for walking on the ramp at sporting events or for just smiling like bimbos. These aspiring athletes will work for some dhal, roti and sabzi. Such is the committment. We wait to see who will be the fastest Indian of them all.

By the way, there is a breed of ducks called ” Indian runners” and they cannot fly. As per an article on the web – An extraordinary looking duck,native to India, it is characterized by an extremely short Femora, the thigh or upper bones of the legs, with consequence that their feet are not brought, as other ducks, under the middle of the body, but are placed much farther behind. They are known to be excellent egg producers.


30 Responses to “Indian runners…”

  1. Sharmila,

    I think you are being unfair by putting all Indians in the same package deal.

    I am an INdian. It’s not right to say that I don’t run…. Try asking me to get married – I will be out of sight before you can say ‘Pu-ja-ri’!

    There is difference between the agilities of Africans and Indians. Permit me to give an example…

    If an African finds himself pursued by a panther, he doesn’t spend time in research…. Even the slowest of them will rise upward two feet in the air and then bolt like a flash of lightning… ….a whir and a blur and he is gone….

    We Indians passed that test thousands of years ago…. We do the Indian rope trick nowadays… … We throw up a rope straight into the air, climb it… and pull it up behind us… …Just like that… You should see the horror in the eyes of the cat… ! 🙂


    We are indeed sitting ducks when it comes to athletics – though I was a hockey player myself – I was nowhere near a class…

  2. It is true about the excellent egg production – my aunt in Germany has some of those ducks. Never knew they had come all the way from India. And they run a lot faster than I can…..

    • Renate,

      Correction: Golden eggs! I didn’t think eggs are Indian patents. I would rather say don’t trust your aunt. Aunts aren’t gentlemen…

      I knew about some other things. Like Cotton. In his biography, Alexander the Great says, ‘This is God’s own land. Blessed are the people indeed. Here wool grows on trees!’. He ‘discovered’ cotton for the Geeks!


      • Sudhir,

        Looks like PG Wodehouse has gotten the better of you! My aunt, nonwithstanding being a farmer, is the finest gentleman you will ever come across.

        I shall find out if Werner Bergengruen’s assay on aunts and their quirks has been translated into English, and if it has, you will find it in your next parcel from California.

        Apologies for being off-topic seriously here.
        My NRI friend runs more than I do. That probably explains why the duck gets the better of me any time…
        OK, will shut up about aunts and ducks now!

    • Renate – Lol. Good to hear we can beat the Germans!

      • Renate,

        Thank you, Ma’am Jeeves…!

        But I can bet anything Aunts cannot become Gentlemen… For one they are not gentle… another they are not men…

        My own aunt sacred the wits out of me with her zany ideas… She made me jump into a lake with my clothes on…. just because she thought she had seen something floating downstream… turned out to be a thirsty fish that was too lazy to swim against the flow… just shows… Aunts are tough nuts… no heart inside… sometimes I think they live only for fun!

        God bless P G Wodehouse… he discovered aunts for me…


  3. I think our govt is to blame.But the average Indian has started running for exercise.Not just at the gym but out on the road and that takes sheer guts!Soon,I think we can expect a runner at the Olympics.I think an indian woman just did the iron man,dont know her place but we are moving in the right direction….

    • Joyce – Yes, I know a few who run. Most of my NRI friends run in the US, Aus etc. I know very few running on the roads in India, that would be a risk. There are of course the tread mill runners too. Good to see you here.

  4. Oops,

    I mean scared… not sacred!

  5. Well, I must say that I don’t think it’s a genetic factor by any means, but rather laziness (as you mentioned) and unawareness. Maybe this is something that should be engrained in The Indian education system exposing children to the idea.
    My parents, nor anyone in my family were runners or good at any sport and after 3 years of training, I’ve taken a 2nd place at every race so far in 2010! It can be done. Patience is a runner’s best friend, followed by determination and eventually a coach!!!
    We also have to remember we’re not great at everything. We can give 100% in one thing or 50/50% to another. So if you want to run, you can.
    Best thing I ever did next from marrying my husband! Lol

  6. Anand Khare Says:

    हमारा शरीर भले ही सबसे पीछे हो,
    हमारी आत्मा सबसे आगे भाग रही है.


  7. Dear sharmila,your comment yesterday(109)on Mr Bachchan Blog was brilliantly written…very well said.
    Have a good day
    Love always…saroj

  8. Salman Shahid Alvi Says:

    Yes,Sharmila _ _ _ _ _ or _ _ Its more of the bollywood stars that seem to be doing the job instead of those that should be….

    BTW,are you satisfied with the budget this time…..I remember somewhere you mentioned about the pathetic state of Indian railway system may be……..

  9. Sharmila & Co,

    Am away to the desert on an exploration tour for a few weeks!

    Shall miss your blog more than my own! 🙂


    PS: And the Jammy too 😛

  10. Who says we are not good at running? We are a country of people who are always running. Sometimes from pillar to post to get some of our very basic work done, at other times behind trains and busses, after stray dogs and cattle, running to catch petty thieves and pickpockets, sometimes on the run from the law and most of the times we are running away from our responsibilities. Now tell me, after all this running around how can you expect us to have the energy to even dream about running on the track for a medal.

    Jokes apart, I think it is about genetics. How else do you explain why the Africans are good at T & F events and the Russians and Chinese at gymnastics? BTW we are good at making runs though. Sachin just became the first batsman ever to score a ODI double hundred.

    That’s it for now because I have to run towards the express highway before the traffic swells.

    • Lol Melwyn – Run, run , run! Hmm, I think we are lazy and the genes may be a bit of an issue now and then. Sachin is a phenomenon,no doubt! BTW, I thought the stray dogs run after us..??

  11. After some time it becomes difficult to make out who’s running after whom.

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