Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday rued that people in India, including some of his colleagues in Parliament, have limited understanding of sports and emphasised on the need to create a sports culture in the country.
Rijijiu was amazed that his colleagues felt that people like Jyoti Kumari, Kambala jockey Srinivas Gowda and Rameshwar Gurjar — who became social media sensation — were Olympic prospects.
“Knowledge in Indian society about sports is very minimum. I don’t want to degrade my own colleagues but even in Parliament there is no knowledge,” Rijiju said during the online launch of High Performance leadership programme organised by ELMS Sports Foundation and Abhinav Bindra Foundation.
“Everybody knows about cricket, the English people have put that in our mind. They play the game and we had to beat them. But other than that, there is no knowledge, all just want gold medal.”
In May, the 15-year-old Kumari hit national headlines after she cycled down 1200 km from Gurugram to her native place in Bihar in eight days with her father. She was offered a trial by the Cycling Federation of India, which she turned down.
Talking about Kumari, Rijiju said: “There was this young girl who under very difficult circumstances during this COVID-19 pandemic carried her father on a cycle from Gurgaon to Bihar. It was a tragic thing but imagine some of my colleagues said she will bring gold medal for India in cycling.
“See how lack of knowledge makes people think like this, without knowing what are the formats of cycling and what standards you have to reach to win gold medal in Olympics, just pouring of information will not do.”
Earlier, Gowda and Madhya Pradesh’s Gurjar also became social media sensations for their running exploits in the slushy and dusty fields and were eventually called for trials.
Gowda was believed to have completed 100m sprints in about 11 seconds and was dubbed by some in social media as the next Usain Bolt, the Jamaican multiple Olympic gold medallist sprinter.
“There was also a case in Karnataka, a bullock cart running competitions where there was somebody called Srinivas. For a better traction so that people don’t feel we are not aware of the situation, our SAI people had invited him,” Rijiju said.
“… I was told he was not fit for a world class sprinter but that is not important. People started saying that we have got a man who is faster than Olympic champion Usain Bolt. We have to identify talent but look at the lack of knowledge, people don’t know.”
High performance programs key to producing champions: Bindra
India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra on Saturday stressed on the importance of high performance programs for producing champions in a “structured and accountable format”.
“Champions have to be built through systems and processes,” said Bindra during the online launch of High Performance leadership program organised by ELMS Sports Foundation and Abhinav Bindra Foundation.
“It requires a detailed and relentless pursuit of greatness. At the end of the day, when every athlete has been trained to the hilt, it is the small things that separate the good from the excellent.”
Talking about the High Performance leadership program, Bindra said it is an “initiative linked at creating advocates and architects of High-Performance Sport in the country, laying the groundwork for a robust Indian sport ecosystem that continuously generates champions by design and not by chance.
“High-Performance sport is simply attention to detail in recruiting, training, and creating champions in a structured and accountable format,” the ace shooter said.
Over 50 participants from across the country have been nominated for this course, which will be attended by leaders from the SAI, state governments, national sport federations and private sector enterprises.
“High performance has been a possibility not just because of great athletes and coaches but also due to sports leaders. These leaders not only created an athlete centric approach but also executed plans with perfection,” Bindra said.
“…we need to innovate to meet the evolution of Indian Sport and take it to a higher level of performance and success. This is only possible if work is done to empower institutions and people involved in influencing the way Sport is developing in India.”
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