Lack of Medals in Olympics- An Analysis

Abinav Ravi
3 min readDec 27, 2017


There have been groans about how Indians though a country of over a billion people return from Olympics with less than a handful of medals. There have been a wide range of reasoning that the infrastructure of sports other than cricket and to some extent hockey is not so great and that athletes suffer dietary requirements.

But the main Question to be addressed here is why is India sending only a minute fraction of its population for Olympics. In 2016 only a contingent of 103 which includes members from team sport such as hockey. It accounts to 0.000029% of the total youth population[1] of India.

Different articles have contributed India’s failure to a Lack of infrastructure, Large Gap between rich and poor, caste system and lack of sufficient nutrition.[2]. Article [3] published just before 2012 olympics goes as far as to credit the British and the other western cultures for Indians thriving in sports like Hockey and even jogging in parks.

The other factors which are responsible for bringing down the number of athletes are

Sports as a career: Sports is often not a lucrative career. There are very few athletes outside cricket who have endorsements or other ways of earning money apart from their salaries to take up sport as a career. In a developing country like India where climbing the economic ladder seems important as it is also co-related with social ladder. Sports as a career becomes secondary and takes backseat.

Alternate Employment: Lack of alternate employment is also a responsible factor. In countries like China the state takes care of the athlete which is not the case in India. Though there are sports quota jobs available they constitute a very small percentage of the available positions and usually goes to people who can play with money. Joining private organisations means that workload increases. if the job is not satisfactory you are easily replaceable in job market with so much unemployment.

Education System: The education system is also responsible to a small extent for discouraging budding athletes. I studied in a school which discouraged sports all together. Though there are some schools that support sporting talent the lack of seats fails to create a large impact. Often the school has games hour which is taken 80% of time by teachers teaching subjects considered to be of importance.

Corruption in Selection: India is very much known for corruption and stands way ahead of others in global rankings. In sports corruption often takes place during the selection process. Many athletes fall prey to this than to the above mentioned factors. The primary levels of selection involve a great level of influence and money which reduces the probability of good athletes coming into main picture.

Society pressure: As mentioned in [2] society often plays a very important role in building of a career. The Indian households mostly get involved in any career decision of a child and mostly deny them from participating in sports though they are talented and have the spirit to go all the way. Female athletes are mostly denied a chance due to this factor. They are asked to stay at home and be a good girl. Added to all this pressure is the safety concern for women thus filtering a huge population.

These factors show us that Indian Athletes don’t succeed because the masses get filtered. The remaining good athletes are the 103 which were sent to rio to win medals for India. Now we face the problems with lack of infrastructure and dietary requirements. India doesn’t win more medals because most athletes are still not discovered. A proper screening process without societal interference can bring a lot more people into sports and change the number of medals obtained multiple fold.



Originally published at



Abinav Ravi

Engineer , Bibliophile, Cinephile and Cook.