The rooms desperately need a coat of paint. The boxing rings are in a state of disrepair, the punching bags in tatters. And only one of the two multi-station exercise machines work properly.
Welcome to the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) training centre in Bhiwani, home to India’s only Olympic boxing medallist and from where last August, three Indian boxers made the quarterfinals of the Beijing Games. A fourth, Dinesh, too was part of India’s Olympic contingent of five.
This isn’t how things were supposed to be though. Soon after, Vijender, still registered with this centre, won bronze, SS Roy, then regional director of SAI Northern Centre, Sonepat, had promised to upgrade facilities.
On Tuesday, it will be one year since Vijender stood proud on the Olympic podium. The promise, it seems, will stay just that.
At least that’s what a visit here seems to suggest. The hostel rooms are small and look like they’ve never even been whitewashed.
The corners of the boxing rings are frayed and the punching bags look like they have had more than their share of pounding.
Requisitions have been made for replacements, first in May with a reminder sent to the head office on July 1, but they haven’t arrived. Not only punching bags, gloves and headgear too have been sought but not got. “With these facilities, you can not expect to produce champions. After our achievements in the Beijing Olympics, promises were made that the centre would be equipped with the world-class facilities. But here the condition has worsened,” Vijender told Hindustan Times.
“The SAI Centre, Bhiwani, had produced a number of international boxers and is still doing that. But if one looks at the facilities here, no one would believe that we are the products of this centre,” Vijender said.
Brish Bhan, the centre in-charge, said: “We are trying our best to provide the best facilities and, to an extent, facilities here are good. We are providing the best diet to the players and it’s on par with national camps.”
Asked about the poor state of the rooms, Brish Bhan, who is also senior wrestling coach, said: “As per the Memorandum of Understanding between the SAI and Haryana Government, the state government has to provide and maintain the hostels.
“But as they are not doing anything, we do whatever little we can.”