From the Press….
Before you say, China, of course, hold on. A while ago, the Financial Times carried a wonderful article about how China recruits athletes in remote villages and trains them (to the exclusion of everything else) to become world-class athletes. The story talked about one Olympic kayaker, Yang Yali, who was recruited from the provinces even though she didn’t even know how to swim and had never seen a kayak before her recruitment. But Yang Yali had the broad shoulders and long arms of the superlative kayaker she would become, and the talent scout recognized that.
The same week that I read the story, I attended Pratham Books’ launch of a children’s book, From Kolhapur to Beijing, which chronicled the journey of Olympic swimmer Virdhawal Khade. Khade’s voyage was fraught with resource constraints and hurdles. Here was a boy who wanted to swim, who was an Olympic-level swimmer and yet, he had to fight at every step to get where he was. Wouldn’t it have been far easier for this kid if a talent scout like the ones China employs in droves just spotted and moulded him; changed his destiny in one fell swoop?