IOA couldn’t care less for wrestling: Gian SinghAugust 30th, 2008 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) Dhyan Chand Award winning wrestling coach Gian Singh says the country may gloat over the odd medal a wrestler like Sushil Kumar will win at the Olympics, but that does not mean the sport is on the upswing. Gian Singh holds the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) responsible for the terrible state of India’s most popular traditional sport. To say the sport that has given two Olympic medals is getting a raw deal will be an understatement.
Pointing out that Sushil Kumar had won the bronze medal in Beijing Olympics, 56 years after Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav gave independent India its first-ever individual medal, Singh said unless IOA’s appraoch and attitude towards wrestling changes, India would continue to win a medal once in 50 years.
“Wrestlers like Sushil Kumar will win medals at the Olympics, but that would happen once in 50 years. Wrestling unfortunately is not a priority sport for the IOA, though it has fetched India two Olympic medals,” Singh told IANS.
“You can make out how important the sport is for IOA as it did not think it fit to clear a masseur for Sushil Kumar. You cannot think of winning a medal at the Olympics without proper back-up. Does anyone know or do they care that Sushil is world number seven? Look at the way they treat players from elitist sports like tennis, giving them anything they ask for.”
Singh, who received the award Friday, minced no words when he said if there is any sport that can win medals at the international level regularly, it is wrestling and yet it does not get the recognition it deserves from the IOA.
“How many wrestlers were given the honour of carrying the country’s flag at the Olympics or Asian Games opening ceremony? I can name any number of wrestlers who missed out on medals just by a whisker, but their feats have hardly been recognised and they remained unsung.”
Singh, who was the national coach of the team from 2003-06 and is currently the Railways coach, said unless the visibility of the sport goes up, the neglect will persist. If it has to come out of hibernation, the prerequisites are proper competition structure and state-of-the-art infrastructure and coaching facilities. For all this funds have to be found and that should come not only from the government agencies but also from the corporate sector.
“Because of the lack of awareness about the sport, there is hardly any talent at the junior and cadet level. Sushil and Yogeshwar Dutt are top class wrestlers, but more young men like them should be unearthed and motivated to take to wrestling.
There are any number of young wrestlers at the akhadas, but they have to be spotted through talent hunt. For all this there has to be a structure which is not there. The akhadas should be encouraged and financed to work as nurseries.”