Monday, 27 June 2016

Weekly bulletin on India’s preparations for Rio 2016 Olympics

With just six weeks to go for the Rio 2016 Olympics, we bring you an update on India's preparations for the Games.

Deepika still fighting her demons

Since London Games, no interaction with archer Deepika Kumari ends without reminding her of the infamous mental disintegration at Lords. Last Wednesday in Bangalore, after returning from a fourth-place finish at the World Cup, she admitted: “After that, I started feeling fear while shooting. But I worked on it. I worked on the mental side. I’m OK now,” she said. After that, Deepika repeated almost a dozen times that she can handle pressure better than before. All eyes were on her as she spoke about her mental preparations when she suddenly snapped momentarily. “Don’t stare at me like that,” she told those around her. “I get very conscious.” Just when she seemed to have convinced those present.

Prarthana’s futile plea

Sania Sania Mirza’s women’s doubles partner Prarthna Thombare recently approached the Sports Authority of India seeking financial assistance to the tune of Rs 60 lakh. Thombare’s request included taking part in various competitions in India and abroad dating back from January 11 and up to July 25. The 22-year-old has been travelling across Europe with Sania for the last few months where they have been training together.
Back then, SAI had granted her Rs 10 lakh for the same. Once the pair was confirmed by the All India Tennis Association (AITA), the ministry included Thombare in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), setting aside Rs 30 lakh for her. Thombare’s request to double the amount, it seems, has come as a surprise to many of them. Hence, the sports ministry – which has been rather generous in sanctioning funds of late – ignored her plea and decided to release just one-third of the amount she sought.

Shoot off-site

You would think that Munich and San Marino and now the city of harsh winds Baku is only about dress rehearsals before shooters move to Rio for the quadrennial finale. But a coach to an Indian shooter says that heading to Europe – rather out of India – is absolutely essential for athletes, to stay away from distractions and the pressure that starts building up at home. It’s not just the media clamoring to know about their chances at a podium finish, but also the subtle nervous energy that comes from fans, friends, relations and well-wishers. Meanwhile, air rifle shooter Ayonika Paul has stayed put in Mumbai training with personal coach Suma Shirur who is also keeping the media at arm’s length from her young ward. And apart from replicating the range at Rio, the duo are also simulating entire match situations – from qualifying to finals.

Vijender’s dilemma

Last week, the tussle between Vijender Singh, his promoters and the ad-hoc body governing Indian boxing was out in open. Vijender, who will take part in his first pro fight in India next month, was keen to give Rio a shot after the AIBA opened the doors for pros. He wanted to compete in the qualifiers in Venezuela and complained to the SAI that the ad-hoc body was not forwarding his case. After an inquiry, it was concluded that he hadn’t made any formal request. The boxer was given time till June 23, the last day to submit the entry form for the qualifier from July 3 to 8. A SAI official said since his much-marketed pro bout in India was on July 16, his promoters weren’t keen and after Vikas Krishan, who fights in the same category qualified, Vijender scuttled his Rio dreams.

No bias, please

While the entire focus has been on the Rio Olympics, lest we forget, the Paralympics are also around the corner. The paralympics scene in the country has not been that great, with the federation in disarray. To ensure there are no controversies and discrimination, the SAI has advised the IOA to take care of every minute detail. Generally, it’s the little things like attire and kits that are prickly issues. So, the IOA has been told the kits for para-athletes should be the same as athletes for the Rio Games.

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