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Back up Rio hopefuls

Back up Rio hopefuls
Highlights

Iconic shuttler Prakash Padukone, whose trail-blazing achievements put India on the world map, is bang on target when he contends that the badminton scenario never looked more vibrant than what prevails in the present times.

Iconic shuttler Prakash Padukone, whose trail-blazing achievements put India on the world map, is bang on target when he contends that the badminton scenario never looked more vibrant than what prevails in the present times.

Taken from any angle, there is a distinct possibility of an Indian or two making it to the podium in Rio. The optimism stems from the manner contemporary players have been winning envious laurels. As medal prospects, several proven materials can strongly fancy their chances, especially the likes of Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap, K Srikanth and the women doubles combination of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, whose preparations received a shot in the arm from Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) on Wednesday.

Gutta was candid while admitting that such timely gestures would bring about a peace of mind to the players, who could now stay focussed on their game than be worried over lack of back-up support.

There is a lesson in the pioneering OGQ example for the policy-makers and self-proclaimed promoters. Barring the TOP facility that is being extended to a select few (who occupy exalted positions by the dint of their individual efforts), there is precious little by way of governmental support during an athlete’s formative years, unlike in Asian powerhouses like China and South Korea where a person with promise is almost immediately adopted and exposed to international mainstream.

They don’t make a fuss and continue to extend sops to those who turn professionals whereas a Vijender Singh, who is employed by the Central government, is being treated as a pariah since the time he announced his professional journey. This is even as the fans are euphoric over the pugilist’s sensational professional debut.

Against this backdrop, the governments of Haryana and Telangana State deserve pats because they come across as exceptions to the unwritten, but very forceful, step-motherly rule. Like Haryana, Telangana State government has no issues with making Sania Mirza its Brand Ambassador. It is such a support system that every athlete hopes to get from the policy-makers. Once assured of financial assistance, they can go about the task on hand with renewed vigour.

Perhaps, this explains why overseas sportspersons are able to raise the bar and come up with marvelous performances in the hour of reckoning. In contrast, Indian shooters, many of whom are medal hopefuls, are being denied support from the very government whose Minister dreams of bringing in the best ever medal haul at Rio.

OGQ is a far more reliable source because as a body that is promoted by yesteryear champions, an athlete’s physical and mental state is best understood by them and not by gullible politicians, who have no inkling about the needs of sportspersons, who also double up as the country’s revered ambassadors on the global stage. Indeed, political mindset towards sports has to change dramatically and go beyond lip-service.

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