With Indian athletes setting benchmarks at the Beijing and London Olympic Games, the government too seems to be making it clear that medals will translate into rewards and meagre picking into paltry gains. Though hockey continues to enjoy 'A' category status, its budget allocation is down 10% from last year (2012-13). While it was Rs. 11.77 crore last year, it is down to Rs. 10.50 crore for the current financial year.
A senior Sports Authority of India (SAI) official said on condition of anonymity that, "Hockey will have to prove its worth. Our men's team was placed 12th and last at the London Games. Let's also accept the fact that there were more foreign trips in 2012 because of the Olympic year. So, keeping all these things in mind, there's been a marginal cut."
The sports ministry, though, has opened its purse for shooting, boxing, badminton and wrestling. For financial year, 2013-14, the budget for shooting – in which India won a silver and bronze at London, not to forget gold in Beijing – has been almost doubled to Rs. 20 crore. Saina Nehwal's bronze medal has got her sport an allocation of Rs. 12.16 crore, up from Rs. 6.95cr in 2012-13. Boxing has jumped from Rs. 11.90cr to Rs. 18.62, while wrestling has got a hike of Rs. 3cr. "Keeping the Lond-on performance in mind, the ministry has increased the overall budget on the training of the elite athletes by 50 per cent (up from Rs. 117.84cr to Rs. 157cr), including a hike of 75% for 10 sports disciplines, identified as Olympic-medal potential sport," said Gopal Krishna, director-general, SAI.
"We have requested the minister to give special emphasis on training of national squads in the budget and he has agreed. It's a positive step towards our preparations for Rio 2016," he added.
"It is a positive development. Increasing the budget for training will only bring in better results," said wrestler Sushil Kumar, winner of back-to-back Olympic medals, while Beijing bronze-winning boxer Vijender Singh said, "The long-duration camps organised following the successful CWG 2010 campaign brought good results in London. Continuing with the practice will help us reap rich rewards in Rio."