It's all very well to draw up a blueprint to prepare athletes for the 2016 Olympics, but the Sports Authority of India (SAI) needs to be questioned on the half-hearted build-up to the 2012 Olympics.
The sports ministry had sanctioned support personnel - doctors, physiotherapists, physiologists, psychologists, nutritionists/dieticians and masseurs - for the 16 disciplines chosen under Operation Excellence London 2012 (OPEX). But the reality is that majority of the national camps are either without support staff or are woefully under-staffed.
The blame rests not only on SAI but also on the national federations that have failed to rope in support staff. Take the case of judo. During the two-month long camp at SAI's Central Centre in Bhopal, the judokas doubled up as masseurs, in the absence of trained hands, and had to cope with injuries as doctors and physiotherapists weren't enlisted.
Problems for lifters
The weightlifters fare no better. The ongoing camps at the NIS, Patiala (for men) and SAI centre in Bangalore (for women) do not have doctors, physiotherapists, nutritionists or other personnel to tend to players' needs.
The lone bright spot for the men is the presence of Manas C Dass, a masseur.
Strangely, the lifters have been pooling in money to pay Dass's salary as his appointment is yet to be cleared by the ministry.
"Manas is a bonus for us, but as he is not getting paid, we pooled in R100 each and gave him R1500 last month. We're hoping his appointment will be approved, otherwise we will continue to pay him," said an international lifter.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has failed to rope in support staff for the ongoing national camps at NIS, Patiala, and SAI centre, Bangalore. The only thing they have in the name of backup is masseurs.
In the same boat
Like the gymnasts and women wrestlers, shooters had to fend for themselves in the absence of support staff during recent camps in Delhi and Patiala. "Earlier, we had no idea that the ministry has provided for support staff. From the next camp, we will seek sanction for roping in a doctor, physiotherapist and dietician," said Baljit Singh Sethi, advisor, National Rifle Association of India.
The men's hockey team is the most comfortably placed and can boast of a doctor, physiotherapist and masseur at its camp in Bangalore. But given the size of the squad (90), the 3-man team is inadequate.