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Subcontinental Drift: Wooden Spoons
More Olympic views from our readers

September 14, 2000
Web posted at 3:00 p.m. Hong Kong time, 3:00 a.m. EDT

Readers continue to write in with their theories on why South Asian countries fare so poorly in the Olympics. The subject clearly touches a raw nerve. It's hard to swallow the fact that, as the subcontinent's athletes limber up for the Games this weekend, there's not a single gold-medal prospect among them -- indeed, it would be a minor miracle if anybody brought home a bronze.

Subcontinental Drift: Lame Games
Your theories on South Asia's Olympic shame
- Thursday, September 7, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Olympic Shame
What ails South Asia's athletes? You tell me!
- Thursday, August 31, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Justifying Hate
Faux theories fail to explain the Kashmir dispute
- Thursday, August 24, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Mirage in the Mountains
How Hizb-ul-Mujahideen used its ceasefire to play politics
- Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Hair-Trigger
Why the cease-fire in Kashmir cannot last
- Thursday, August 3, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Trials and Errors
Justice isn't served by scared judges and politicians
- Thursday, July 27, 2000

The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek

From Our Correspondent
Personal perspectives on the news
But there's no point wallowing in shame or anger. I invite you to write in with ideas on to change this sad state of affairs. Let's avoid sweeping generalities ("Improve sporting infrastructure") and fantasy solutions ("Let's use genetic engineering to create a generation of Super-sportsmen"). Instead, address yourself to the question: What will it take to produce a gold-medal-winning athlete from South Asia?

The Subcontinental Drift message board -- sound-off about the news in South Asia to TIME
For inspiration, go back to the letters posted on the Subcontinental Drift bulletin board. See also the excerpts in last week's column. And here are selections from the best of the latest batch of letters. Mohammed Hadi's is my pick for the best of them all. Here it is:

"I think it is outrageous and offensive that people really believe that we are disadvantaged because of physical stature and (of all things) intelligence. This was the basic tone of the excerpts in your last article, and while it is reflective of the generally low self-esteem that we have, it is still without any foundation. For years our sportsmen have battled with and destroyed individuals and teams from all over the world in a number of sports. The problem is that the focus and the funding are directed only at those sports with which we have a history -- cricket, squash, field hockey. Our sports stars, like those of EVERY other nation in the world, are sports stars because they are blessed with a certain physical and mental ability that the rest of us lack. Even in the U.S., a country where sports are more sacred then anything else, the Olympic athletes are not everyday people. They are bigger, faster, stronger and often smarter than the average American. To imply that this kind of individual does not exist in the subcontinent is ridiculous. The problem comes down to the process of finding and nurturing this talent. Pakistan, for example, is a country where you see men who are 7 feet tall opening doors at a 5-star hotel instead of being recruited by a sports team or league. Every day we witness great feats of strength and endurance that go completely unnoticed. The next time you see a 60-year-old man carrying a load on his back that looks like it could crush an elephant, think about what South Asians are really capable of. If resources cannot be dedicated to the cultivation of such talent, and if people with such ability are not even exposed to sports at which they can excel, then how can we expect to win a gold medal? Put it this way: Tiger Woods would not be where he is today if he grew up in the subcontinent."
Mohammed Hadi

"No matter how many lame excuses I can come up with, the fact is that we Indians are smart but very lazy people."
Tripurari Jee

"It's really a shame that a fifth of the world's population doesn't expect a single gold medal [in Sydney]. This is happening because of the way stupid politicians -- and people in general -- treat sports in this region. How come Africa with stunning poverty, bags lots of gold medals, and the 300-million-strong Indian middle class can't get a single one?"
Anton John Pillai

"I remember what my parents used to say when I was a child:
"PARHO GAI LIKHO GAI TO BANO GAI NAWAB KHAILOO GAI KOODO GAI TO HO GAI KHAWAR" (If you read and write, you'll become a rich man; if you play, you'll become a beggar) So how can we do good in sports?"
Waseem Malik

The Subcontinental Drift message board -- sound-off about the news in South Asia to TIME
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