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Sports post-mortem

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  29 Aug 2016 12:00 AM GMT

With the soul-searching on after the Indian contingent’s below par show at Rio Games, Prime Minister rendra Modi’s has set up a task force to draw the roadmap for the next three Olympics. As part of it, the task force will prepare a long-term strategy how to upgrade sports facilities and training as well as determine selection norms. Foreign experts will be roped in this process. The Sports Ministry has been asked to submit a detailed report next month. It is now coming out that the run-up to Rio was dogged with typical red tape and mismagement which has long been the bane of Indian sports. It is surprising that after the better shows in 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2012 London Olympics, the country’s sports planners slid back to their bad habits of yore. Funds for 2016 Olympics were released only in the last eight months, which was obviously too late in the day. Boxer Manoj Kumar, who bowed out in the 64-kg pre-quarters at Rio, has bitterly revealed how India’s suspension from the Intertiol Boxing Association played havoc with the boxers’ preparation. Calling for the Prime Minister’s intervention, Kumar recently said that despite being a Commonwealth Games gold-medalist, he was included in the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme only in June this year, so in that short time, all he could think of was merely to qualify for Rio. This underscores a problem several leading coaches have frequently pointed out earlier — that most Indian participants for Olympics and other world-level tourneys use up all their energies just to qualify, that qualification is their goal and not a medal thereafter. Despite being aware of such a mindset, it is a mystery why our sports administrators still muddle along with a system that allows many an athlete to huff and puff through the qualifying period only in the fil month. Since the athletes’ peak is directed towards qualification, they fall off the curve when the real action gets going, some as early as the first round. This is said to be the primary reason why so many Indian participants performed way below their persol bests in Rio. If this is the level of physical preparation of athletes, working on their mental aspects so that they do not get overawed at the biggest sporting stage simply does not figure at all, many coaches and sportspersons rue. After Dutee Chand failed to go ahead in the women’s 100m heats, he coach lamented: “By the time they get their nerves under control, their event is over”. Our sports federations are now making their post-mortems, but whether they at long last come to grips with such basic flaws in sportspersons’ approach, remains to be seen. In this context, Prime Minister Modi’s view that the country’s sports should be linked with its education system, offers much food for thought. The organized sports system in US high schools and universities is a major reason why that country is a sporting superpower.

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