chapter  10
20 Pages

The Army, Indian-ness and Sport: The Nation in the Olympic Ideal

A full four years after he won the silver at the Athens Olympics in 2004, the face of Lt. Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore remains one of the first images that strikes the traveller as one drives into New Delhi from the city’s international airport. India’s lone medallist at the 2004 Games, Rathore remains a potent draw for the Army’s recruitment planners, his visage decorating a huge, virtually permanent Army hoarding at the entry to Delhi Cantonment.1 The photograph on the hoarding captures Rathore’s face in a moment of pure ecstasy as he kisses his silver medal, with the ceremonial olive wreath on his head. A caption below the photograph informs the traveller: ‘Join the Indian Army Be a Winner for Life’. Rathore with his silver, only the fourth Olympic medal India has won since 1980, has been turned into a poster boy for the Indian Army’s recruitment programme.2