For archers, it’s all in mind
For long, Indian archers have been accused of being mentally fragile, a factor that has resulted them in repeatedly faltering on the big stage. Deepika Kumari’s brain-freeze at London Olympics is still fresh in the memory. To ensure it does not happen again, the Archery Association of India and sports ministry have appointed two sports psychologists. Eminent sports psychologists Bhishmraj Bam will be imparting mental training to the archery team in the run up to, and during, the Olympics. Besides, the ministry has also decided to obtain services of renowed mental trainer Lorenzo Beltrame, who has worked with the likes of Jim Courier and Pete Sampras.
Music to their ears
The National Rifle Association of India does not want to leave anything to chance at Rio. Such is the detailing of their preparation for the Games that even the music that will be played during competition at Rio will be provided to the shooters. ISSF administrator Doris Fischl recently sent an email to the NRAI, which briefed them that background music would be played during the qualification and the finals during the Olympics. The NRAI informed the ministry’s TOPS committee regarding the same and it was decided that the same music will be followed in the trial events and camps in the rup up to the Games to ensure the shooters get used to it.
The NRAI is also focussing on helping shooters from other countries to prepare for the Olympics. Bhutan’s only representative in the sport, Lenchu Kunzang, will train in India as she does not have facilities and partners back home to train with. Together with the Sports Authority of India, the NRAI will help the girl from the Himalayan kingdom to polish her skills ahead of the Games. The 10m air rifle shooter has been given an invitational place by the IOC, to ensure there is representation from all continents.
Rifle shooters Gagan Narang, Chain Singh and Apurvi Chandela were scheduled to train in Russia from June 3 to 21 but had to change their plans last minute. Narang, Chain and Chandela are all training under Kazakh coach Stanislas Lapidus and wrote to the ministry last week requesting to change their training venue to Switzerland. The trio anticipated that even the Russian national team would train at the same venue and were keen to avoid a clash. The ministry was glad to oblige. In a letter dated May 18, the director general of National Anti Doping Agency had advised Indian athletes to avoid training at five European countries, including Russia. Soon after a series of doping scandals emerged, the ministry informed the athletes who were planning to train in Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine and Italy to be careful.
Burden of Shiva
Shiva Thapa, the only boxer to have qualified for Rio so far, left for Azerbaijan with the rest of the Indian team on Sunday, although he wouldn’t be taking part in the tournament. However, Thapa found himself in a unique situation, where if he had stayed back at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, he would have no one to train with since all other boxers and coaches will travel to Baku for the final Olympic qualifiers. So while other Indian boxers will be hoping to secure an Olympic berth, Thapa will train on the sidelines and also witness the performance of his potential opponents at the Olympics. Despite the mess that Indian boxing finds itself in, the ministry has identified Thapa as one of the medal prospects and is going all out to support him in build up. Once he returns from Baku, Thapa will travel to USA’s training centre in Colorado.
Safety first for athletes
Considering that some of the venues – like archery and shooting – are two to three hours away from the Olympic Village, some athletes were planning to stay outside the designated accommodation. Their plans were scuppered by the ministry. It has been decided that no athlete will be allowed to stay outside the Village because of security concerns and dangers of Zika virus.