To represent your country at any age is a huge responsibility, but when you're as young as 19, it is a lot more difficult for obvious reasons.
But Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary make the task look easy. Both of them are among India's best shooters, and a testament to that is their Olympic qualification.
So naturally, you would assume that they'd be celebrated irrespective of the result. Well, guess not.
The two failed to make their way to the medal games in the 10-meter air pistol mixed event (after Manu's gun had a circuit malfunction), and what followed was incessant trolling by their own people.
Manu Bhaker in World greatest shooters with No. 1 world Ranking. pic.twitter.com/x0rYVMMXp7— Anshuman (@Anshuman84m2) July 25, 2021
Thousands of memes/jokes were circulated to criticise the two, showing the mentality of viewers who take just a second to drag players down when the result is not in India's favour.
Apparently these shooters and their coaches have guzzled 1100 crores between them in last 4 years as per today's TOI.— DalitBoy (@subcontinentie) July 28, 2021
Good one it is really funny some chutiyas defending her!These guys r reason behind India's monumental failures in Olympics everytime!!No accountability only moral victory!— Samrat chatterjee (@Samratc49031249) July 27, 2021
Hard truth . Indians need to digest this . Let's see what reason Manu bhakar will give today for her loss— mr stark (@human71097878) July 27, 2021
13 years old are winning Olympics..— Nikhil Magdum (@nikhil9630) July 27, 2021
So age shouldn't be an excuse
Perform of Perish @realmanubhaker ! What the hell you think you were trained to do??— TheRationalIndian🇮🇳 (@TheRationalInd3) July 27, 2021
And this is not just disappointing, it is actually a bit concerning too. One can't even imagine the impact of this kind of unwarranted vicious backlash on such young minds. Especially when they are already feeling dejected by their loss.
No athlete participates thinking that it would be acceptable to lose. They accept defeat when the time comes, they hopefully tell themselves that it is a part of their profession, but the effort is to win each time. The effort is to see the tricolour lift. Each time.
Sport in India. Simone Biles withdraws from an Olympic final due to mental health issues and everyone is praying for her well being. 19 year old Manu Bhaker has a bad day as a shooter and armchair experts want her dropped from the team.— Digvijay Singh Deo (@DiggySinghDeo) July 27, 2021
Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary finish 7th in the Mixed Team Air Pistol event.— Naman Agarwal (@CoverDrivenFor4) July 27, 2021
You gave hopes to a billion people at 19 years of age. You will give hopes again. Fret not. Be proud. And come back stronger. #Shooting pic.twitter.com/X5kmuTvgGI
So for the people of their country to treat them like this is totally loathable behaviour. It enters a long list of things we need to change about ourselves as a 'sports-loving nation'.