India’s youth brigade, which bagged eight medals including six silver at the recently concluded Olympic Youth Games in Singapore, was felicitated by the Indian Olympic Association in the Capital on Saturday.
At a ceremony held in the IOA Bhawan, it was announced that the medal-winners will be given cash rewards of Rs 4 lakhs and Rs 2 lakh each for silver and bronze respectively. Though India stood 58th among 84 nations, its haul of medals is considered by many as a sign of greater things to come. For Arjun, who bagged silver in discus throw, the reward was a pleasant surprise and a motivation to perform better in the future. “I had trained hard before the tournament. Even though it was a good exposure for all of us, I personally was gunning for gold. The silver though means I will have to work harder,” he said.
IOA president, Suresh Kalmadi, and secretary-general, Randhir Singh, who were present on the occasion shared words of encouragement with the young stars. “It’s heartening to see the performance at the Youth Olympics. The sporting future of the country looks bright. We will ensure these athletes get proper training and facilities so that they can keep improving,” said Kalmadi.
If the athletes were laughing their way to the bank, the coaches and support staff were left high and dry. Indian shooters, for instance, gave a commendable performance, despite the fact that only homebred coaches accompanied them to the gala event. Unlike the Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cups, no foreign coach was around. Yet the trio of Navdeep (8th in men’s air rifle), Ruchi Singh (6th in air pistol) and Neha Sapte (5th in women’s air rifle) made it to the final.
Disappointingly, the IOA and the sponsors failed to recognise the hard work of the coaches, ignoring them for the cash awards.