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Foreign hand for gymnasts?

Raj Bhavsar, the American gymnast of Indian origin, who hogged headlines when he won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, could well be giving shape to India’s medal hopes in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, reports Ajai Masand.

other Updated: May 23, 2009 23:26 IST
Ajai Masand

Raj Bhavsar, the American gymnast of Indian origin, who hogged headlines when he won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, could well be giving shape to India’s medal hopes in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Confirming this, the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) secretary-general, Kan Singh Rathore, told HT that discussions were on to consider his proposal. “He has sent his proposal through a sports foundation, GoSports. We are studying it…It would be a pleasure to have him. GFI officials will be meeting in Allahabad on Sunday to study the offer.

“The only issue is that we will be having a foreign coach soon and with just a year-and-a-half left for the Games, we’ll see how best we can utilise his services,” Rathore said.

Bhavsar became the third Indian-American to bag an Olympic medal after Mohini Bhardwaj and Alexi Grewal. He clinched bronze in artistic gymnastics after coming in as a replacement for an injured US teammate.

GoSports director, S Hakimuddin, said from Bangalore that Bhavsar would be reaching India on June 1 to hold discussions with the IOA and GFI officials and “explore opportunities on how he can play a role in giving a boost to Indian gymnasts”.

“We have sent a proposal to the GFI and are looking at how best his services can be utilised — either as a consultant or coach. GFI officials will meet him during his stay here,” he said.

“Bhavsar is not a product of the system but knows the challenges Indian athletes face. He had a big challenge to prove himself in the US and, despite missing out on a 2004 Athens Games berth, he came back strongly to win a medal at Beijing. He wants to share his experience with us.”

When told that the GFI was sceptical, as the proposal had come through a sports foundation, Hakimuddin said: “I am not aware of any such thinking. Bhavsar was looking for someone to represent him in the country and he found us.”