Friday, July 2, 2010

New fillip for Indian sportspersons

New Delhi The growing profile of boxing in the country and raised medal hopes for India from the sport in the Asian Games was reflected in a new corporate sponsorship programme launched on Tuesday that aims at providing training facilities and scholarships for prospective winners in the continental games.
The Sports Ratna programme by Samsung features four shooters and boxers each, besides two wrestlers, who will be taken care of in the run-up to the November Games. And while only six were present at the launch — the shooters are all training in different parts of Europe — those present hoped the upcoming Commonwealth and Asian games would return better results than the previous editions. Samsung are also the team sponsors for the Indian contingent at the November 12-27 Asian Games in Guangzhou.
“Our practice is going on well at the NIS, Patiala, and we are working hard for the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games,” Olympic bronze medallist and World number one Vijender Singh said. “The fact that the Commonwealth Games will be held in Delhi will also be a motivating factor because competing in front of home crowd always pumps you up,” he added.
Hoping to hit form
Akhil Kumar, hoping to hit form ahead of the two big events after recovering from a wrist injury, said he was confident of doing better this time around. “Not only has the practice been good, but I am also taking good care of my injuries. I know recovery is a slow process and I don’t want anything to affect my participation in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. I won’t let the country down this time around,” said the gold medallist at the 2006 CWG. The injury has seen his form dip in the last two years, though Akhil is ranked 9th in the world in the 57kg category.
Besides these two, Youth World Championship winner Nanao Singh and Junior World Cup bronze medalist Suranjoy Singh are also part of the programme.
Olympic bronze medallist in wrestling, Sushil Kumar said the recent good performance by Indians in the Asian championships — India won seven medals — was a good indication that the country would do better than ever before in the upcoming events. “The kind of training that we are going through and the support we are getting, we should win a lot of medals,” he said.
Ramesh Kumar, the first Indian to win a medal at the World Championships in over 40 years, said the training would only get tougher in the days to come. “Right now we are training for six hours a day but as the Games come closer the number will go up,” he said.
The signings: Abhinav Bindra, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Gagan Narang and Ronjan Sodhi (all shooters); Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar, Thokchom Nanao Singh and Mayengbam Suranjoy Singh (all boxers) and wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Ramesh Kumar.
No word on facilities
While boxing continues to rise in popularity, the infrastructure and facilities available in the country has not developed at the same pace. World no. 1 Vijender had recently complained about the lack of air-conditioned training facilities. But the pugilists present at the function on Tuesday refrained from talking about it. “As far as I am concerned, air-conditioners are secondary. For a boxer — or any sportsperson — the most important things during training are those that help him improve. Good physios who help in faster recovery from injuries, good and prompt medical facilities, modern technology and training apparatus like oxygen chamber, ice-bath rooms etc — these are things that make a difference,” said Akhil Kumar.
But he refused to comment on whether Indian boxers were getting the best facilities. “I can’t say about being the best; I have not seen the world. But I am satisfied, I can make do with what I get,” he said.
Suranjoy Singh said though the sport’s profile had increased, money always remained a problem. “Boxing is increasing in popularity but getting funds remains an issue. The funds that are sanctioned are not enough specially given the level of training we require to match the best in the world,” he said.

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