The 2012 London Olympics may have ended, but the debate about India’s performance – good, middling or pitiable – continues. Finishing 55th in a long list of 204 countries may not be worth the boast, but it is a fact that India’s medal strike rate has improved.
Historically, India’s strike rate has been poor at one medal for every 50 (approximately) participants.
In 1980, the 72-member contingent brought home a single gold, which was followed up by a bronze 16 years later in Atlanta, courtesy Leander Paes.
But the London Games witnessed India’s strike rate climb to one medal for every 14 participants, impressive given the modest contingent size of 81, as opposed to Games winner USA’s 530.
The UK, which finished in third place, had a strike rate of under one medal for every 10 participants till as recently as the Sydney Games in 2000.
Sports minister Ajay Maken has already set a target of 25 medals for 2020.
But to take things to the next level, India needs to participate in more categories. While China graduated from 19 sports in 1984 to 29 in 2012, India moved from a repertoire of 11 sports in 1988 to 12 in 2012.
One of India’s strategies could be to increase participation in aquatics and athletics, which have the largest number of medals. This time, China had 51 participants in swimming, and 55 in athletics, while US had 49 and 125 respectively; grand figures in comparison to India’s 1 and 14.