Back to the drawing board

Indian coaches need to re-work their strategies to prepare athletes for the delayed Olympics

Back to the drawing board

Shuttler PV Sindhu has time at hand to regain her form while boxer Amit Panghal will have to sustain his form till next year. file

New Delhi, March 25

The athletes are playing the waiting game for now but coaches involved with India’s Olympics-bound athletes have already put their thinking hats on to redraw the preparation plans a day after the Games got postponed to 2021.

"I will redraw the plan only after the dates for the 2021 Games are out. We need to know when the next qualifiers are. We aren’t really worried because we have got the qualification in nine out of 13 weight categories." — Santiago Nieva, boxing’s high performance director

“It is going to affect the shooters in a big way, especially the young ones who are appearing in their first Olympics. We have been preparing for the past three years. Having said that, we need to accept this without any complaints,” national pistol shooting coach Jaspal Rana said.

Not worried: Nieva

Nine boxers and an equal number of track and field athletes have also made the cut so far.

“I will redraw the plan only after the dates for the 2021 Games are out. We need to know when the next qualifiers are,” said boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva, referring to the five men and four women, who have already made the cut for Tokyo. “We aren’t really worried because we have got the qualification in nine out of 13 weight categories,” he added.

Boxing was scheduled to have a world qualifying event in May, which was postponed. India will have a shot at more Olympics slots whenever that tournament takes place.

‘Not ideal’

"We are already working on getting shooting range simulators but it can still take one month. SIUS Ascor’s electronic target systems will help the shooters to at least practise indoors."— Jaspal Rana, National Pistol coach

Deputy national athletics coach P Radhakrishnan Nair struck a note of scepticism on what can be achieved and feels a postponement till 2022 would have been better. “It will be a challenge for us as far as planning of training and competition schedule is concerned. In this situation of lockdown I feel the athletics season is as good as over for this year,” Nair said. “I don’t think we can start doing anything before September or October. Then the seven-eight months before the Olympics (in 2021) may not be enough. Had it been 2022, it would have been better,” he added.

Expect no glitch: Gopi

National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand said he does not expect any major glitch in the shuttlers’ build-up. “I think a year is a good time... We will have enough time to come back. So, I don’t think there will be any problems or negative effect on our preparations,” he asserted.

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat, one of the biggest stars among the Indian hopefuls, will take the break positively, according to her coach Woller Akos. “We need to look at the positive side with Vinesh. We have got one more year to prepare against the best opponents,” the Hungarian said, asserting that the Asian Games champion is more than ready for any challenge even right now. “An athlete needs to be a maximalist. Vinesh is ready to follow our dreams and preparation,” he added as he spoke about the lone Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for Tokyo.

Put to best use

National weightlifting coach Vijay Sharma said he will have to re-work his planning to ensure that the one year in hand is put to best use. “We will have to plan everything again now. We are now waiting for the guidelines on the new qualifying system, accordingly, we will plan our training,” he said. “With the cancellation of the Asian Championships earlier we changed our plan a bit but now with the Olympics’ postponement, it will change completely. We will try and find the best way to benefit from this situation,” he added.

Table tennis player G Sathiyan’s coach S Raman welcomed the postponement. Based on the current rankings, Sathiyan is eligible for the men’s doubles event along with A Sharath Kamal. “Right decision... and should not have come later than now as it would have confused players...You don’t want panic training and the resultant virus among community of athletes,” he said. — PTI


IOA, sports Ministry to revise plans

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has conceded that the careers and plans of some of India’s elite athletes would be impacted by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. IOA would look to address this when it makes revised preparation plans in consultation with the Sports Ministry. “One year postponement might impact the career/qualification and plans of some athletes, which would be addressed in the coming months and all the necessary support would also be extended by us,” IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta said in a letter to the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo Games organisers, without specifying any names.


Indian hockey teams take postponement in stride

Bengaluru: The news of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics is yet to sink in but India’s hockey captains Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal are confident that they would be able to deal with the disappointment as they continue to work hard over the next one year. “I think the news is yet to sink in for us. We were mentally gearing up for our first match on 25th July, so the disappointment is surely there but it is important for us to now look at the positives,” Manpreet said.


80 Indian athletes have qualified for the Games so far and the number is expected to swell once the qualifiers re-start


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