We aren’t talking about training, nope. Not even dieting or endless hours in the gym. Those things are obvious. We are talking about challenges created by those these athletes represent. The challenges that are born out of bigotry and selfishness. Here are some of them:

1. Casteist abuse directed at you and your family members if you fail to win. 

This recently happened to India Hockey forward Vandana Katariya, who was part of the squad that qualified for the historic semifinal at the Olympics, a first for the women’s team. Following the defeat in the semis against Argentina, a group of men burst crackers outside her house in Haridwar and said that India lost because it has “too many Dalit players”.

This is what our athletes get for representing us.

2. The (not so) casual sexism and unfair comparisons that demean all women.

Imagine winning medals for the country only to be pitched against other women, who are also merely doing their jobs. This kind of mentality is very deep-rooted and creates illogocal, unnecessary competition. In short, nothing about it makes sense and everything about it is offensive.

And then, of course, there are narratives that reduce women to how ‘suitable’ they are for marriage.

3. Incessant trolling in case of a defeat. A classic.

One mistake and there you are, a subject for trolls who become experts the second an athlete loses. 19-year-old shooters Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary were at the receiving end of this and it is something that should put us all to shame.

4. Politicians hogging the limelight to cash in your success for their own benefit.

There are multiple examples of politicians putting their photos on posters that are supposed to be for athletes. Here, have a look. 

5. People in a position of making and changing opinions, giving credit to politicians for your accomplishments. 

I am talking about Navika Kumar who thought it fit to credit Anurag Thakur for the medals our hardworking athletes have won.

People representing India deserve better than this, don’t you think?