Before the Games, a home disadvantage
Home teams putting in their best performance is quite the norm in big-ticket Games. A crucial factor aiding that is the advantage that comes from months, if not years, of familiarisation to the actual venues.india Updated: Aug 06, 2010 00:19 IST
Home teams putting in their best performance is quite the norm in big-ticket Games. A crucial factor aiding that is the advantage that comes from months, if not years, of familiarisation to the actual venues. That edge is kind of blunt when it comes to India's challenge at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. And it’s not only the inability to train at the venues due to the never-finishing construction, even basic aids to peak performance have been denied to our athletes.
Throw events (women discus and men's shotput) are the major forte of Indian athletics. But till date, the throwers have not even been provided with special shoes meant for their discipline. “A shoe does not last more than three months and before it can be used in the actual event it has to be broken into. We are yet to get even one pair apiece,” laments a discus thrower. “These shoes are not available in India," she adds.
Then, sprinters and jumpers have also not got their spikes. That’s certainly spiked their aspirations. Competing against the best is important to hone one's competitive edge. For that, foreign exposure needs to be planned. “We got some early this year, but we needed it now closer to competition," remarks an athlete. “The girls are throwing 60-61m in training sessions. A couple of competitions abroad or even in actual event venues would improve their effort by 1-2 m, which is a decent throw to land you in the medal bracket,” said a discus coach.
In another sport where India’s chances sparkle, we seem to be looking to shoot ourselves in the foot. Full-bore rifles are not available in the country, so the question of conducting a coaching camp just does not arise. The Karni Singh Range has yet not opened for the shooters even though it has been inaugurated. Then the lack of a foreign coach for pistol shooters for the last one-and-half-year is hindering their chances. Many core group pistol shooters have opted to stay away from the camp because they think that in the absence of a coach they can practice better at their home ranges.
Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh last month lashed out at the lack of a proper training hall at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, where the boxers have been camping. Finally, now the boxers have got the centrally air-conditioned hall they have been demanding for long but it's too little too late. In cycling, the core group has just got no support in procuring state-of-the-art equipment. A wooden track has its own unique needs and sans the special equipment, our cyclists will be trailing against better-equipped foreign competition. The cycling coach from overseas has forwarded his demands many a time.
Wrestling has a very strong base in India but the modern sport is all about mats in AC halls. Our medal aspirants continue to toil in the heat of a non-airconditioned basic hall in Sonepat. Home advantage is a mirage that stayed an illusion for Indian athletes. You see, we are like this only.