A number of national camps since the Tokyo Olympics, across disciplines and with a focus on Commonwealth Games and Asian Games were planned and held at various SAI National Centres of Excellence (NCoE) across the country and, in some cases, at overseas locations as well.
Athletes who needed to train outside India were facilitated to be based in foreign locations. Since his return to training after the Olympic Games, Javelin Thrower Neeraj Chopra has been training in Chula Vista (US), Antalya (Turkey) and Finland.
Olympic medal-winning Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu spent time in St Louis (USA), training with the specialist coach, Dr. Aaron Horschig. Steeplechaser Avinash Sable and other middle-distance and long-distance runners have been training in Colorado Springs, also in the US, with international coach Scott Simons. The cycling team has been camping in Slovenia and Portugal for three months.
A government statement said: “More than 111 exposure trips were sanctioned for 15 sporting disciplines that are part of the Commonwealth Games. Hockey teams played ProLeague, World Cup (women) and Asia Cup (men). Badminton teams have played 26 tournaments. Wrestling teams have competed in five tournaments.
“Table Tennis players have been supported to compete in eight tournaments. Swimmers Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash were given support to compete in four events. Judo teams competed in Europe.”
Elaborating the amount spent on the camp, the statement furnished these details about the duration of the training camps and the money spent: Athletics: 259 days, Rs 7.84 crore; Wrestling: 157 days, Rs 5.27 crore; Boxing: 216 days, Rs 4 crore; Weightlifting: Rs 1.92 crore; Hockey: Rs 3.15 crore.
“Athletes who needed to train outside India were facilitated to be based in foreign locations,” the statement pointed out, listing the addition expenses borne by the government: Weightlifting equipment: Rs 4.68 crore; Hockey aids, including GPS and Video Analysis software: Rs 2.86 crore; Boxing equipment: Rs 1.19 crore, Wrestling, strength and conditioning equipment: for Rs 1.18 crore.
In the Union Budget, the statement noted, the allocation for sports was also ramped up to Rs. 3,062.60 crore for 2022-23 from Rs. 2757.02 crore in 2021-2022, “that is a rise of Rs 305.58 crore”.
It seems that the government has broken the bank for athletes’ preparation, and now the sportspersons must deliver and bag a rich haul of medals in international events, to start with the Commonwealth Games, beginning on July 28 in Birmingham. And then progress to Asiad and the Olympics.
(Inputs from IANS)