This time, Bindra’s swansong for real
Twice, Abhinav Bindra has hinted at retirement but both times, he couldn’t resist the urge of competitive shooting. So when he announced Rio will be his swansong, it wasn’t surprising that it wasn’t taken seriously. But this time, it looks for real. On June 16, he had his final training at the shooting range at his home and was overseen by his first coach Col JS Dhillon. The training was followed by a send off by his family and his mother framed the score sheet of his last training at home range. It was am impressive one, too, just one 9 in the six series while finishing with a 10.5.
Caught in the Zika net
The Mosquito repellent nets might be the first thing on the check list of the Rio-bound Indian athletes. Among the issues that are concerning the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the sports ministry, Zika tops the list. There have been multiple advisories that the IOA has received from the International Olympic Committee, World Health Organisation and the Local Organising Committee of the Games. Consequently, they are leaving nothing to chance. A couple of weeks ago, Sports Authority of India’s executive director (teams) Sudhir Setia wrote to all national federations directing them to send their Rio-bound athletes and coaches for vaccination to prevent yellow fever. The IOA, in collaboration with SAI, has also listed 26 authorised centres across the country where the vaccination is available. And that’s not all. All athletes and federation officials have been told to ensure they carry mosquito-repelling nets and bands.
Four is a crowd
In a village which can accommodate close to 18,000 athletes and officials, one would assume making space for four additional players would not be an issue. But HI is finding out how tough exactly it is to find a bed for its two men and two women standby players. Unlike other competitions that allow a squad of 18, Olympics allow only 16 members along with two standbys. But, unlike London, the organising committee has refused to provide accommodation to the four extra players – a decision that hasn’t gone down well with the IOA and HI. Both have written letters to the OC and have said they are willing to pay for the extra beds. The organisers have cited lack of beds as the reason. But they are willing to provide players access to the village. The IOA andHI say the main concern is safety outside the village. There are stern orders from the ministry that no Indian athletes are allowed to stay outside the village except archers, who had booked a room before the directive was issued.
Dipa’s home stretch
With nearly 90 percent of India’s Olympic contingent training abroad in the run up to Rio, one would have expected gymnast Dipa Karmakar to follow thus. But she will neither train in a foreign land nor take part in any competition. Instead, she is spending most of her time in Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium with coach Bisweswar Nandi. This is to ensure she doesn’t over-exert. Recently, the sports ministry asked Dipa and Nandi if they want to train abroad. They turned down the offer, instead asking the government to procure the same vaulting table that will be used for the Olympics and will help her improve her landing.
Last week, the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) met officials from various federations with a one-point agenda. The NADA, which wants to ensure no Olympic-bound athlete goes untested and hence, has asked for their training locations. There have been reports that some Indian athletes have been avoiding random tests by not providing details of their movements. The sports ministry is already concerned that several athletes have trained at countries notorious for doping. Last month, they advised them to avoid countries like Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Turkey and Italy where doping is rampant. But that came too late.