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Basic formula: Spend money and get medals

other Updated: Nov 26, 2010 00:20 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

With one day of competition remaining in the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou, Indian sportspersons have already performed beyond expectations.

India has equalled the Doha Asian Games medal count of 53 and look to be on course to equalling the all-time best medal haul of 57 medals that India bagged in the 1982 Asiad at home.

Though the rich medal haul (by our standards; after all China's already netted 375 medals till now) is a cause for celebration, what's even more heartening is the fact that the medals have not been earned only from events in which India has been traditionally strong.

Indians have normally got their metal in shooting, wrestling, athletics and billiards - with the shooters normally gunning down a clutch of gold medals.

While the marksmen have been way off the mark in Guangzhou -- barring the lone gold by Ronjan Sodhi -- lesser lights from boxing, rowing, archery and wushu have stepped up to herald a new line-up of heroes.

No one expected rower Bajrang Lal Takhar to win gold even though he was the Asian Champion in his category. Even the most enthusiastic and optimistic of boxing officials had not expected five of our pugilists to reach the finals -- considering that India has won only five gold medals in all in the Continental jamboree thus far.

The last one adorned the neck of Dingko Singh in 1998 at Bangkok. Vikas Krishan on Thursday ended that drought.

There are many more such examples from Guangzhou.

The credit for this success goes, besides the sportspersons who have put in years of hard work, to the government which has pumped in huge amounts into training our sportspersons over the last two and half years.

The public exchequer has dished out Rs 678 crore over a period of two-and-a-half years for training, foreign exposure, sports and medical equipment as well as upgrading training centres. Earlier it was just Rs 40 crore per year.

In all 1,140 players from 18 disciplines were given continuous training/exposure in India and abroad for up to 305 days a year.

These were supported by 170 Indian and 30 foreign coaches. Earlier, only the participants in top sports would get support and that too not of this intensity.

A total of 3,760 players (repeat visits included) were sent abroad for competition and training at an expense of Rs 95 crore.

Though the government stimulus was approved with the short-term aim of doing well at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the plan has borne fruits at the Asian Games too.