There is a promise in India for better days. One can only hope that this flows into Indian sports as well; and that what should happen, does happen…
The 2014 Commonwealth Games have ended. So what should hppen now? What should happen is that a Mission Rio 2016 should get underway. The 64 medal winners from the Commonwealth Games should rest on their laurels for a very short while at most. After that, it should be back to work. The Sports Ministry must conduct in-depth meetings with the athletes, their respective sports associations and experts in each sport on what is required for them to win in Rio. When I say experts in sports, I mean specialists in each sport. I don’t mean get in Rahul Dravid and ask him what a Boxer needs to win a bout. I use this example because that is what we tend to do.
Based on the survey and discussions in the meetings, a plan of action needs to be formulated by each association for their respective sports and athletes. Each association being accountable to the Ministry. Every athlete must be studied, individually. Why and how did they perform well? Can they do better? Do they have a chance of winning in Rio? What support, training and infrastructure do they need to have a shot at winning? What are the missing links? To do this, you need coaches and experts, not administrators.
The non-medal winners must be looked at as well. Why did they not win? Can changes be made to their training both physical and mental to increase their chances of doing well in 2 years. Were they lacking physical abilities, specific skills or the mental strength? How do we provide them with these? A top of the line-training center for the athletes who most likely will be representing India in Rio in 2016 must be set up. In some cases, it is already in place but someone must ensure that it is the best in the world. This does not just mean a building with the right equipment. It means coaches, health experts, nutritionists, sports psychologists, physiotherapists and whatever else that an Olympic athlete needs to excel. The budget should be irrelevant. It simply must be done. Public-Private Partnerships should be encouraged.
The individual development and focus with each of these athletes is key. Every athlete will need special attention to build on their weaknesses and further enhance their strengths if they are even to stand a chance in Rio. Two years is not a lot of time to build a strong team but the sportsmen and women in the country obviously have some level of skill and determination to do well. So why can’t we help them out?
What will happen?
The athletes will be in the news again during the Asia Games in September. Then they will vanish. For the next two years, we will lose track of them. As we get closer to Rio (probably 2 months before) there will be ads on television, which they may be featured in, encouraging the country to support them. This is when we will hear of them again. Of course we will support them. Unfortunately the real support they need is not from you and me watching them on television.
When our team leaves for Rio a few of them might make it. The IOA will most likely want to save money so will send them on a commercial flight that has multiple stops. Probably- Mumbai-London-New York, Miami, Sao Paulo, Rio. This will create more jet lag than any athlete should be asked to handle. Some of their bags may be lost so any critical equipment they might need to compete should be in their hand luggage.
How they prepare for Rio over the next two years is entirely up to them. If they are lucky and get the help of organisations like Olympic Gold Quest then good for them. If not the Government certainly wont provide them anything. If by their own hard work, grit, determination and skills they manage to win a medal, someone from the IOA will probably try and take a photo with them. My guess is the IOA will claim credit for their win as well. Of course the IOA officers will be in Brazil using the funds that should have gone to your development.
There is a promise in India for better days. One can only hope that this flows into Indian sports as well; and that what should happen, does happen.