CHENNAI: After the chances of India qualifying for sailing events at the Rio Olympics evaporated with poor showings at the ASAF Asian Sailing Championship in Abu Dhabi in March, the Yachting Association of India (YAI) chose not to renew the contract of national coach Pete Conway from England. The decision was taken keeping Varsha Gautham-Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan (49erFX) and Varun Thakkar-KC Ganapathy (49er) in mind since all four needed to clear a backlog of academic examinations.
But come December, Australian coach Ian Stuart Warren will take over the reins. Warren is responsible for producing four Olympians in his native country. Apparently, 27 candidates were considered for the job.
“The sports ministry has already cleared his appointment, and he should be joining in December. We’re just waiting to finalise the contract which is a four-year deal, unlike the previous ones that were revised yearly,” a YAI source told Express. “Ian suited the bill best because his credentials are impressive and his financial expectations were within our means.”
The source elaborated that YAI took the decision with the 2018 Asian Games and 2020 Olympics in mind. While the girls won Asiad bronze in 2014, India’s presence hasn’t been felt at the Olympics since 2008.
“Varsha and Aishwarya won bronze in the 29er class in Incheon. The last time any of our fellows were in the Olympics was in Beijing, that too due to a quota place. But, we did away with quota slots in 2012 because they are often demotivating.”
While all four have been on an extended break, the source said they have been working diligently on their fitness.
“The arrival of a new coach was postponed as Varsha, Aishwarya, Ganapathy and Varun had to finish their schooling and clear a bulk of exams. While the eight-month break was essential, we told them to continue their physical training.”