The Rio Olympics from the eye & experience of a photojournalist: Here’s Priyadarshini Pooja Arya

Priyadarshini Arya With Dipa Karmakar


Rio 2016 saw the largest Indian contingent ever at any Olympics. In fact, this Olympics had the largest women participation from all over the world. Some of the best pictures showed women in the fight, the punch, pumping fist, raising the flags and of course rising above. We talk to NDTV photojournalist Priyadarshini Pooja Arya, who covered The Olympic Games over these last two weeks about the highs and low, emotions and experiences of being behind a lens on the front lines of sporting history for India.

1. What have been the most magical moments of covering the Olympics at Rio – as a photojournalist?

I would say it was definitely Dipa Karmakar’s Produnova vault jump. It was breathtaking! The way the entire stadium erupted in cheers for Dipa was overwhelming. Also, PV Sindhu’s battle for gold was so inspiring. Even though she lost, she won many hearts.

2. These games have highlighted both extremes for women – sexism on one hand and successes and celebration on the other: What are your impressions of the sheer spotlight on women this time?

Good spotlight is good:) But on a serious note, the Olympics is the biggest and most important sporting event in the world. The attention should be on the individual competing, and his or her performance, not the gender. Juxtaposing this with the performance of Indian athletes, our women have clearly taken a giant leap. From winning the first bronze medal in women’s wrestling to winning the first silver medal in badminton, its been quite a ride.

3. What’s a day like in the life of a photojournalist in sport? Is there really anything that sets apart the work pressures and assignments done by a female photojournalist?

I would say the pressure is tremendous. The work continues from morning till late at night. The athletes usually participate in one event only. We cover many, running from one event to another. Rushing from one stadium to the athletes village to doing Live NEWS. And God save you if the time difference between the host country and your country is 8:30 hours like in my case! Ours is no less an Olympic!

Priyadarshini Arya

Priyadarshini Arya with PV Sindhu

As a woman photojournalist, I focus not just on the sport. I also look at the human and emotional part of the athlete. That’s something which is easier to connect to.

4. How big a role does emotion-management play in the games? Did you observe that as an important factor for winners over losers?

It’s actually control over emotions that finally wins in sport. What matters is how well you have trained your emotions as well as how well you have trained in your sport. There is no place for emotion when you are competing at this level because its a distraction. Emotions step in once your bit is over. Yes, bucking yourself up helps to boost your energy and concentration.

5. For you personally, what’s the take on India seeing so many young women coming to the fore at the games? We have created youth icons with the olympics haven’t we?

It’s great to see so many Indian women compete in Rio 2016 Olympics. This is the largest Indian contingent ever at any Olympics. In fact, this Olympics had the largest women participation from all over the world.

Yes, though PV Sindhu was a known name in the Badminton world, now it’s a proud moment to see her emerge as the pride of the nation. Dipa Karmakar and Sakshi Malik, too, are new icons. That’s not only because they competed at the Olympics, but also because they won medals and hearts. And because they rose against the odds. Their backgrounds and their struggles make them bigger heroes. As a nation, we need icons that have overcome the odds and emerged shining. The new generation must look up to heroes that have risen from among them.