India boxers miss out on top trainer in Olympic year
It is learnt SAI did not consider Nilsson as he is engaged by the Swedish Olympic Committee and is not available full time, a requirement for strength and conditioning coaches.Updated: Feb 11, 2020 06:49 IST
When Sweden’s Armand Duplantis broke the pole vault record clearing 6.17m last week, an important member of his support staff had a link with Indian sport, having helped Indian boxers produce top performances in recent times.
Rickard Nilsson, renowned strength and conditioning expert employed by the Swedish Olympic Committee for a decade, has been working with Duplantis and other elite Swedish athletes. He was roped in for the Indian men’s and women’s boxing teams and played a key role in improving their performances. Nilsson made five visits to India across 70 days last year, laying out a programme for the country’s elite boxers as well as the coaches.
His services were sought on a regular basis by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) in the Olympic year, and were discontinued as he was not available full time. The BFI had proposed to Sports Authority of India (SAI) that it wanted Nilsson for another part-time tenure (90 days) before the Tokyo Games, but the request was turned down. It is learnt SAI did not consider Nilsson as he is engaged by the Swedish Olympic Committee and is not available full time, a requirement for strength and conditioning coaches.
During the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) meeting in December, it was felt the “estimated cost of hiring Rickard at USD 500 per day (R50,000 approx) was on the higher side.”
It has been learnt that it was pointed out at the MOC meeting how other federations have hired strength and conditioning experts at a lesser cost. It was suggested planning should be done to serve a long-term goal and a full-time strength and conditioning coach hired for the boxers.
“We would have liked Rickard to continue till the Tokyo Olympics since he has worked with team before. But he was not available full time as was SAI’s requirement,” a BFI official said.
BFI has since recommended Daniel Jefferson, strength and conditioning expert from Scotland, at a monthly salary of $5,000. His name is yet to be cleared. “We will now keep him on a long-term basis. We are still awaiting his clearance. The earlier it is done the better for the team as it is an Olympic year,” the official added.
A SAI official said Jefferson’s name has been “recommended to the foreign coach selection committee.”
When contacted, the Indian boxing team’s high performance manager Santiago Nieva said the teams were following the regimen Rickard had put in place.
“We are very thankful to SAI for bringing Rickard to India and he set the programme for us, which we are following. For some reason he is not continuing anymore but he has already helped us form a good base as far as strength and conditioning is concerned,” he said.
Indian men’s teams had a successful run last year. The men’s team won a silver and bronze medal at the world championships while the women returned with four medals.
Nilsson, a former Swedish Olympic weightlifter, has been strength and conditioning expert at the elite level for 30 years. He has helped the country’s track and field athletes achieve success, besides working with several skiing champions, and hockey and soccer teams.