As the 600-plus Indian contingent shifts base to Guangzhou (China) for the Asian Games, starting November 12, a candid Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president, Suresh Kalmadi, spoke to the Hindustan Times on the team's preparations for the quadrennial Games and how despite the criticism, athletes managed to salvage the Commonwealth Games.
How will the performance at the CWG help athletes showcase their best at the Asian Games?
The wonderful showing by India at the Games, where the contingent won a record 101 medals, including 38 gold, will help boost the morale of the Indian team heading to Guangzhou. Those who competed in Delhi 2010 will be aware that they have to recover fast and peak again to be able to make a mark. In Guangzhou, we are competing in a number of disciplines that were not part of Delhi 2010 but we are confident that our athletes are well prepared.
Do you think the facilities and training provided for the Commonwealth Games have assisted the athletes perform better?
The national sports federations and coaches ensured that our athletes were well prepared for the Commonwealth Games. The Prime Minister allocated Rs. 678 crore for the preparation of the contingent for the CWG and that boosted the athletes in the 17 disciplines that were part of the Delhi 2010 programme. The athletes were provided better food, greater international exposure and a number of foreign coaches were brought to train them. Besides, the training facilities in a number of places --- Balewadi in Pune, Sonepat, Patiala, Bhopal and Bangalore to name a few --- were upgraded so that our athletes could prepare in world-class facilities.
What do you have to say about the legacy of the CWG?
I shall restrict myself to the sporting legacy of the Games. For two weeks, the country celebrated a number of Indian champions in a variety of Olympic sport. The CWG offered all these champions --- and I don't mean just the gold medal winners --- a great chance to perform together at home and be in the collective consciousness of sports fans, even ahead of the cricket series that was being played at the same time.
We have a chance to ensure that Olympic sport is followed closely. Besides, a number of our technical officials and others will have gained enormous experience of working on a grand platform and this can only stand them in good stead. The number of world-class competition and training facilities in Delhi and elsewhere are another huge sporting legacy.