CHENNAI: The response has been predictable. In the last couple of Olympics, when few expected India to do well, the athletes returned with more medals. This time, when everyone was expecting more, they came back with just two. Reviews and more reviews to analyse India’s show at the Rio Olympics have begun.
The Sports Authority of India and the Sports Ministry, which facilitates and funds India’s training, have got down to business. There have been a few issues that peeved them the most. On is under-performance and the other is the role of foreign and personal coaches. SAI has listed them in a comprehensive review report submitted to the ministry.
One that SAI apparently has taken very serious note of is the issue of hiring foreign coaches and their performance. The immediate fallout will be in athletics, where according to a SAI official, only three will be retained while others including Yuri Ogorodnik (women’s 4x400), Dmitry Vinaykin (sprint) and Alexander Artsybashev’s (race walking) will not have their contracts renewed. According to the official, long distance coach Nikolai Snaserev, javelin throw coach Gary Culvert and long jump coach Bedros Bedrosian will most likely be retained.
Not just athletics, this will be the case with most of the disciplines that have foreign coaches. There have been discussions even on Roelant Oltmans’ performance with the hockey team.
SAI is even planning to have a different process in place to recruit foreign coaches. According to an official, instead of just relying on the national federation’s proposals and recommendations, they are in favour of coming out with proper advertisements. “Even the way they are screened should be different,” said the official. “Federation, SAI and ministry officials with experts should be there to scrutinise their credentials. Their performance will be closely monitored.”
SAI is also unhappy with the demand of certain athletes to have personal coaches. One of the issues discussed in the review is this: “Why should there be personal coaches for everyone?” asked an official. This time there have been serious issues regarding personal coaches when athletes openly criticised the ministry and IOA for not clearing coaches. “We will have to be very strict on this,” said an official.
The SAI is looking at long-term planning this time. Their argument is if they do all these during the last two-three months, they have to rely on the athletes’ judgement and agree to their demands. So everything has to start right now.