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Columns and Interviews

Now is the time to unearth talent at the grassroot level
Yogeshwar Dutt
August 29, 2012
First Published: 00:18 IST(29/8/2012)
Last Updated: 00:21 IST(29/8/2012)
Bulgaria's Anatolie Ilarionovitch Guidea (R) wrestles India's Yogeshwar Dutt in their Men's 60kg Freestyle qualification match during the wrestling event of the London 2012 Olympic Games. AFP/Marwan Naamani

Wrestling has traditionally been India's primary sport, but it was never accorded the importance it deserved. But the performance at the London Olympics has proved that wrestling is indeed the country's top sport.

If Beijing placed wrestling in the limelight, London changed its image from a primarily rural sport to an international medal prospect for India. It has also taken root in the urban areas, which was long overdue.

But this is not the time to sit on our laurels. The London triumph should be treated as a springboard to bigger gains. It's time to start preparing for Rio 2016, so that we can outperform, not only ourselves, but the rest of the world.

The government should focus at the grassroots and encourage grapplers at the junior level. They (juniors) should be given the best facilities, including foreign exposure trips and international sparring opportunities. During our preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, we had long camps and there was a lot of foreign exposure. It was because of this that we performed exceedingly well in 2010.

The same formula was applied after the CWG, and the results in London are for all to see.

While proceeding on this line of preparation for 2016, juniors should be treated at par with the seniors, in terms of facilities, so that we have good bench strength.

During the sapping Indian summer, when it's hard to train, the wrestlers should be sent to countries with suitable climate. This will help us train all through the year.

In addition, there should be scientific and technological support in the camps.

We must remember that talent is waiting to be tapped in the interior parts of the country. Hence, the government should provide good infrastructure in the rural areas and conduct talent-spotting schemes.

This is not about just one Olympics and celebrating the medals won so far. It's ongoing mission.

The writer is a bronze medallist in wrestling at London 2012.


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