Mohamed Hammandi of the UAE competes in the men's 200-meter T34 heat at the 2012 Paralympics games in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
A record haul at the recently concluded Olympics showed just how much prowess the country has made in sport. There’s still a long way to go, though. Fortunately, even the rest of the world seems to be doing their bit for Indian sport.
Mind over body:
Those who’ve been following the Paralympics (currently underway in London) would know that it takes more mental strength and willpower than physical ability to get there.
Ask Mark Inglis. The 52-year-old New Zealander won a silver medal in the 1 km cycling time trial at Sydney, 2000. That came after the mountaineer lost his legs to frostbite while trying to conquer Mt Cook 30 years ago. That didn’t deter him. He returned to conquer the peak as a double amputee in 2002. Inglis even topped that with a record-breaking climb to the Mt Everest Summit in 2004 on his prosthetic legs.
Currently in the country for the SHRM (Strategic Human Resources Management) conference in Goa, Inglis will deliver a ecture titled Leadership through Sports. “I’m going to take my lessons from mountaineering as a metaphor for business,” he explains.Recalling his experience, Inglis says, “I lay in the hospital for a month when I lost my legs. I had time to come to terms with it gradually, but that doesn’t make it easier,” he recalls. Inglis trained hard and took the opportunity to represent his country at the Paralympics. “It comes down to your fight and your training.” His advice to budding athletes is, “Train hard, focus on your goal and give it your all.”
Going for goal:
Meanwhile, the Champions of Europe, Chelsea, sent some coaches to the city recently. The six experts from Chelsea Football Club held two-and-half-hour clinics over two days for aspiring footballers.“These kids pick up techniques pretty quick,” says Steve Winnett, head coach of the foundation clinic. “We’re in talks to come back for more camps. And in the future, there may even be a proper centre.” Winnett claims that contrary to perception, the facilities he observed in India were at par with other countries. “We held our first camp in Delhi, and the facilities were superb,” he claims.
Ask him about the prospects for Indian football and Winnett doesn’t mince his words. “It’s going to take time. There are plenty of talented kids, but they need to train hard, eat right and focus on their game for a few years. It could take a decade or so before they make it to first leagues across the world.”
Winnett and five other coaches from Chelsea trained around 150 teenagers at the camp, working on dribbling, passing,lobbing and shooting techniques, as well as lessons on formations, offside traps, working as a cohesive unit and following the club’s fast-paced style of play. There was also a briefing on nutrition and game psychology.
Did they find any future prospects? Winnett replies, “The point was to make kids play and teach them a bit about the club, but we have an extensive network of scouts who do their job pretty well!”