With the completion of the London Olympics and the recently concluded IAAF Championships, one thing is evident that it is the smaller nations that are making greater strides in sports and gone are the days of the superpowers. In the early days, no one could ever imagine a small country getting their name in the medal list but now with the times changing, every country has an opportunity to achieve accolades in their respected area.
It seems that sports can be divided into two eras: Pre & Post Superpower. In the pre era, developed countries like US, Soviet Union, Germany etc were ruling the tracks; producing stalwarts at will, who took sports to another level. Such was the dominance of the superpowers that other countries were just making up numbers.
Now in the post era, the new generation feels that they have the confidence to match any country head to head and give them a good challenge. It can be said that they have received inspiration from the past legends and are not afraid to emulate their feats on the tracks. It is no wonder that records are being broken by athletes coming from small villages and towns from unknown countries.
One can’t help noticing whether a particular country’s on-field performance is directly proportional to the economic situation at that time. When countries like US and Soviet Union were at its peak, the athletes too were in their helm, churning out gold medals regularly but now since the fortunes of these countries are diminishing, it seems that the athletes too are suffering a beating. Conversely, economic turnarounds are happening in the lesser nations and it kind of reflects in their performance as well.
Also, it could be that some of the athletes have had an impoverished childhood and have seen the lows early in life which makes them more determined to succeed as compared to their counterparts.
But whatever the reason, it is certainly heartening to see the minnows making a mark for themselves in the world of sports. Even though one desires a level playing field but consciously, we are always inclined towards supporting the underdogs and really want them to win; not only their matches but our heart’s as well.