Boxers face high risk of injuries: Physio Matthews

August 27th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) South African physiotherapist Heath Matthews, who was included in India’s Olympic contingent after a demand from the boxers, says owing to the lack of world class facilities here the highly talented Indian pugilists get exposed to a high risk of injuries. Akhil Kumar spoke up for his fellow-boxers in insisting on the inclusion of Matthews in the Beijing-bound squad as the physio had quietly worked behind the scene for a year to keep the boxers injury-free for the Games.

Matthews said the boxers performed exceptionally well, overcoming all odds, only because of their win-at-any-cost attitude.

He said the achievements of the boxers as well as wrestlers stand out because they fought in adverse conditions to win medals.

“It was a test of their character and they have come out on top. Their achievement is significant and highly appreciable,” he said.

“There is a huge talent in boxing here. Indian boxers are as good as any in the world. Technique wise they are second to none. What they need is more facilities and opportunities to fight at the highest level,” Matthews told IANS on the sidelines of a felicitation function Tuesday night.

Matthews was all praise for the determination and courage of Akhil, Vijender Singh, Jitender and others.

“The best thing about the boxers is that they compete to win. They are capable of beating the best in the world.”

Matthews though said that lots still need to be done to provide them with proper infrastructure.

“There is some structure allright, but that’s not enough if the boxers have to realise their full potential. Injuries are not taken seriously because of the lack of awareness. What they do not realise is that minor injuries could become career-threatening.”

Matthews went on to add that if India wants to win more medals in Olympics, the sports management system has to undergo a sea change.

“There has to be a corporate-government synergy and the common objective should be to help athletes perform better. There should be a coordinated effort.”

Matthews, who has also worked as a trainer for Sania Mirza, has been roped in by the Mittal Champions Trust and he helped Akhil overcoming his wrist injury. For one year Akhil was not able to box and Matthews says his ’stomach to fight’ saw him out of the difficult phase.

“He was adamant on getting back into the ring and that gave him the inner strength to recover faster. He had the self-belief to stage a comeback, even when there were questions whether he would be able to box again at all. It was a frustrating period for him, but I used to pep him up to boost his morale. It is very difficult to deal with such injuries.

“He is fighting fit now thanks to the tremendous backing he received from the Mittal Champions Trust. If Akhil is able to maintain his present level of fitness, he can surely go on to win a medal at the London 2012 Olympics. He will never lose a bout for want of effort,” he said.

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