Friday, April, 12,2024

Latest News

We said it and we did it : Thakur

  • India created history in the Asian games held in Hangzhou this year by bagging total of 107 medals. What do you think brought about this overall change in performance?
    We said it and we did it! The hard work and determination of our athletes to win medals for the country, the vision of PM Modi to create a holistic sports ecosystem, combined with the support extended to them through Target Olympic Podium Scheme and other govt funds that has brought these historic results.
  • Our last record in 2018 of 70 medals surpassed this year, what was done in 2023 that brought about these results?
    In 2018 we had 70 medals, this time we have 107. An increase of 52% medals between 2 editions and 75% increase in gold. In 2020 as well, we had the best-ever Olympics, Paralympics and Deaflympics. Of course, it is owing to the hard work of our athletes and others in the sports ecosystem such as coaches and support staff that this has been possible. But our athletes always worked hard, so what seems to have changed now? It is the vision of our PM Narendra Modi which he put in place in 2014, and his personal interest in sports that has brought about this sea- change.
  • Tell us about, ‘Target Olympic Podium Scheme’
    It was PM Modi vision with which the Target Olympic Podium Scheme was started in 2014. He wanted elite athletes to have all the facilities that they need to bring in the results. And today, that scheme and the support that has been extended through it, is showing results. Under TOPS we have two different categories of players - Development and Elite and for both set of players, the government provides training, diet, foreign exposures, equipment and personalised support to each athlete.
  • How do you think these schemes are actually benefitting athletes?
    We have also built a lot of sporting infrastructure to ensure that athletes in every corner of India have a place to start their sporting career. As many as 750 Khelo India Centres have been built in districts across the country and by next year we will take this number up to 1000. The sports budget has also been increased three times in 2022-23 compared to 2013- 2014. These steps have helped to ensure 360 support to athletes.
  • Nearly 30% of the total medals have come from athletics. Does it seem like India’s strength in athletics has really improved?
    Earlier, India was seen as a nation that did well in sports like wrestling, boxing, shooting but athletics was seen as a sport where the west and African countries dominated. But time has changed. I feel the Olympic Gold of Neeraj Chopra in Tokyo has made a huge difference in the mindset of athletes. There is a confidence not only in athletics but in other sports too with which our athletes compete now. Avinash Sable’s CWG medal in the 3000m steeplechase, where he beat athletes from Kenya was another moment where it became clear that we are as good in that discipline. In this Games Parul Choudhary’s gold in the 5000m stands out, not only because it is a historic medal, but also because the confidence she showed in surpassing the Japanese athlete in the last 10 seconds to get the gold. Earlier they participated with the Hope of winning, now they know they can win. That is a big change.
  • How do you really think, you or the government has stood by athletes in their issues at international games?
    Many athletes have told me that when they represent the country now not only do they feel they have training at par with the best in the world, but they also feel that 1.4 billion people are supporting them. PM’s initiative to meet contingents before they leave for major competitions, to directly call them, meeting them and sharing their success once they are back has created a huge positive impact, ‘Yeh Hai Nayi Soch, Naya Bharat’.
  • Women athletes have played a significant role in winning medals. Do you think it shows a change in India’s sports landscape?
    Today, many opportunities are available to women in this country - from Parliament to the Podium. Our women athletes have made us proud by winning 50.2% of the total medals and more bronze medals than men. This shows that they have prepared themselves to face the best in the world. There has been a sustained effort on the part of the govt to promote women in sports. Khelo India Women’s Leagues was launched last year.
  • Last but not the least, what next? What do you think the Paris Olympics will surprise us with?
    The training of athletes who are likely to represent India in Paris has started 2 years back and the training is on track. We have recently also upgraded the facilities at 3 National Centers of Excellence in Patiala, Bengaluru and Lucknow to provide international-level facilities to our athletes. Besides, we have greatly strengthened our sports science facilities and hired more than 200 experts as High Performance Managers and Directors to improve overall training. All athletes will continue to get overall as well as personalised support from TOPS.
  Share on

Related News