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Women Athletes Stay in Shadow at Asian Games 2018

By: Srishty Sharon
Date: 04 Sep, 2018
Image Courtesy: Badminton Photo

Asian Games were held at Jakarta, Indonesia where many participants represented their countries in different sports such as Bowling, Cycling, Squash, Sailing and Sepak Takraw. The iconic Asian Games that bring together the sporty spirit of Asian countries competing against each other is indeed commendable.

One such sport is badminton which has garnered the attention of many due to its recent popularity and millennial’s majority is badminton. While every sport has its own charm, this racquet sport encourages agility, zest and undying passion for the game. However, success and failure are a part and parcel of each sport, badminton applies the same formula too. Recently, at the conclusion of the Asian Games 2018, some of the prominent sports figure reacted to the outcomes in badminton at the Asiad.

Taking about the Individual events at Jakarta, Indian male badminton players couldn’t perform well and the voyage of the Men’s single ended early. By the third round of the tournament, the female athletes channelled their Wonder Woman powers thereby cruising to the successive rounds effortlessly. Saviour stars like PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal stayed till the very end and carved their names in golden palettes in the pages of history. Saina Nehwal became the first Indian to win a Bronze at the Asian Games and Sindhu became the first Indian to win Silver in the same event.

In a world that’s moving towards women empowerment and promoting women leaders, some of the sports luminaries have shamelessly criticized the performance of the sport at the Asian Games 2018 primarily because of the loss of male athletes. Well, that brews several questions about the raging sexism in the field that knows no bounds and has often questioned the taboos on current sporting scenario. This is not just the case of India, but it has roped in other Asian countries as victims too. Many other female shuttlers from different countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and China have performed well and brought more laurels than the Men yet were not acknowledged and remained in the shadows.

The irony is, even after achieving and embarking on such historic victories at one of the biggest podium for badminton, their efforts and achievements are highly underrated. What surprises us the most is that why are the women athletes often under the scrutiny of such unscrupulous stakeholders when they invest the same time, effort, energy just like their male counterparts. Is it fair to let them down and deem their worthy efforts worthless?

Recently, the Deputy President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia stated, “We divided the Asian Games achievements into three (categories) comprising outstanding, satisfactory and unsatisfactory. From our initial evaluation, we have concluded that training programmes for badminton, karate, wushu and silat need to be re-evaluated,” as quoted in NST.

The performance of women athletes was exceptionally good at badminton still the sport is categorized in the unsatisfactory category despite the colossal performance by the female athletes. The point here is not that as a team, badminton could not perform well and shoulder the high expectations of its countrymen, but instead those who did, shall be accredited with the same.

Badminton is not just the only sport which was referred to as Unsatisfactory. Many other sports including pencak silat, karate, wushu, shooting, swimming, artistic swimming, athletics, fencing, golf, judo, sambo, boxing, bridge, gymnastics, handball, jet ski, kabbadi, table tennis, canoe/kayak, roller sports, rowing, climbing, triathlon and beach volleyball found a spot in the flawed list.  

Ignoring the efforts of the female players, all the athletes were held responsible for the unfavorable outcomes. Like every different field, there is a strong need for equality and equality in sports too. Without this, development of a nation and women empowerment are just mere words without any meaning.

All views and opinions belong to the author.

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