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'Narrow talent base cause of India's poor Olympic record'

Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar says, "Our overall international sporting events has not been satisfactory in the past mainly because of the narrow pool of talented athletes".
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 19, 2008 09:07 PM IST

Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on Wednesday blamed India's poor Olympic track record on the narrow talent pool in the country but hoped that the Rs 2.20 crore sanctioned for the athletes' training would result in a better show in the upcoming edition in Beijing.

Answering a query on India's Olympic preparations in the Lok Sabha, the minister said the only way the country can hope to improve its Olympic show is by taking sports to the grassroot level.

"Our overall international sporting events, including the Olympics, has not been satisfactory in the past mainly because of the narrow pool of talented athletes from which our talent is drawn compared to the overall strength of our youth population," he said.

"Talent on a vast scale has to be spotted, nurtured and trained to eventually and exponentially expand our medal prospects," he added.

Aiyar felt India has chances to win medals in six of the 12 disciplines that it will be competing in Beijing.

"The Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the National Sports Federations have identified medal probables in six of the 12 disciplines in which India is likely to participate in Beijing Olympics. India has medal prospects in the disciplines of Shooting, Archery, Wrestling, Boxing, Athletics and Tennis," he said.

Aiyar also detailed the government's expenditure.

"There is no separate budget allocated for preparation of sportspersons for Beijing Olympics. To address the specific coaching/training requirements of identified medal prospects, individual sportspersons are also assisted directly by the Ministry for purchase of equipment, provision of scientific support," he said.

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