Former athletes should be given bigger role in the system: Sushil Kumar

  • Sushil Kumar
  • Updated: Aug 23, 2016 13:52 IST
Sushil Kumar believes former athletes should be part of the system, as is the case world over. People who don’t have experience cannot uplift sports. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

If we compare ourselves to the world, we fall woefully short in terms of infrastructure and other facilities. We did well in gymnastics this time, and this shows we have the talent, but the federations and other authorities have to ensure the athlete realises his potential on the world stage.

After Sydney, where Karnam Malleswari won bronze, we were informed that performances would be analysed and we would work hard to make Athens a success. Athens, Beijing and London are history, and now Rio has ended, but we are still waiting for a clear picture to emerge.

I want to congratulate the shooting federation for what it is doing. There is a great system to select the team for the Olympics and even then the shooters failed to win a medal in Rio. I am told a committee headed by Abhinav Bindra has been appointed to find out where things went wrong.

We need to do similar things in other disciplines, as all those who experienced the highs and lows at the Olympics are the ones who can come up with solutions. As of now, work is happening but we are not winning many medals.

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The federations are working hard, so is the Sports Authority of India, but we still end up with just a handful of medals. Even today, we have only a handful of athletes who have won at the Olympics. I want to forward a request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he should call those medallists and assign responsibilities. He should tell them ‘I am assigning you two disciplines and giving you 10 years, take charge of the junior athletes and give us results’.

We have to keep pace with the times, which I don’t think is happening right now. For instance, this is the age of computers and if we don’t embrace them, our country will lag behind. Similarly in sports, we need to adopt modern training.

Most federations have to analyse how they appoint support staff. Are they in tune with the modern times? Are they helping the athletes? Let’s look at wrestling, and whether the staff is helping wrestlers better their technique? I’ll request the sports ministry to set up a committee to analyse where we are going wrong in the Olympics.

Before I make this point, I want to say that as a sportsperson I may be wrong at times too. But world over you see former players are part of the system. People who don’t have experience cannot uplift sports.

I know all the winners are hurting too. They want to give it back to the system that made them. Sportsmen who have won medals will be able to tell what is needed.

At the Olympics, people don’t know you by name. They will say he is from India. They won’t know who Sushil is. They will say he is from India. It is our responsibility to do well. Planning starts a year before the Olympics, we have to change this cycle.

Gopichand’s trainees PV Sindhu and K Srikanth are doing well, and the reason is Gopi stays with them and keeps track in the camp. My guru Satpal ji will know where I am failing because he has seen me as a kid. Look at Russia and USA, the coach stays with the athlete for a number of years. In our case, freestyle coach Vladimir Mestvirishvili needs to travel with the team. He is the reason why the team’s performance has reached where it is since Athens.

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