MUMBAI: The legendary Kapil Dev feels cricket reached "new heights" in India due to an upgrade in infrastructure and providing better facilities will help sports like hockey win more medals at the Olympics.
"We as a country need to give the infrastructure first. If we have it, the kids will be free to chose any sport they want," Kapil said.
"Cricket has reached new heights as a result of enhanced facilities. However, if we do the same thing in other sports, such as having 200 extra astro turfs, India will win more Olympic medals in hockey than any other country," he added.
The World Cup-winning captain was speaking at an ABP News session titled, 'We Are The Champions: Patience, Perseverance, Practice', alongside former India long-jumper Anju Bobby George, ex-hockey captain Zafar Iqbal and 18-time Grand Slam champion Leander Paes.
Speaking on the change in the mentality of promoting sports he said, "The most important thing I'll say is that what I have seen in the last 40 years is that today the parents bring their kids on the ground and say 'make them a player'."
"In our time, no parents got time to bring their kids to the ground. Today, they come to us and ask whether they can play IPL or if they can play for India?" On the lack of scientific support for athletics, Anju said, "If the parent is not ready to send their kids how we can support them. So, it should come from the parents first, and then scientifically we have to look at that kid.
"First, there is a coach's eye, so we can see and we can tell if he is talented or not. Then we have to scientifically test them and then we need to identify in which event they are good enough."
The 2003 world championship medallist is expecting more medals from female athletes in the upcoming Olympics.
"My academy, Anju Bobby Sports, is nurturing 16 kids, including Shaili Singh, who is currently ranked second in the world at the junior level.
"So, in 2024 or 2028, I'm expecting one of my students to have a podium finish. I'm still chasing my dream. Our female athletes, I feel, are excellent fighters, and we can expect more athletic medals from them."
Olympic medallist Paes, said, "I think most people assume winning Olympic medals is about physical fitness. I think most people believe that winning world cups is about technique.
"The majority of people, I suppose, believe that winning World Cups is all about technique. But it's the difference between your two temples that determines whether you win or lose."
"Champions have a natural ability to think on their feet. My win-loss record shows that I've lost 74.1 percent of the matches I've ever played."
Iqbal, a member of the Olympic gold-winning Indian hockey team, said that after not performing well for thee-four decades the current side has marked the resurgence of India in the sport.
"I would say that we have done tremendously good in hockey particularly if you consider 75 at the beginning of 1948 London Olympics games.
"So, naturally, hockey was on the top in the world also. But as far as hockey is concerned there is no doubt about it that in the last thirty years we could not do much.
"But this team is the best team in the last 30-40 years and it has shown to the world that yes India is coming back in particular in hockey. There is a general increase in the participation in the sports by the people."