High hopes: Athletes aim to maintain their CWG form at Asian Games

first_imgThe landscape of Indian sport has changed dramatically in the last decade or so. Success in the form of medals at major international events, cutting across several disciplines, has brought a major shift in the outlook of India’s sportspersons in terms of their preparations and the targets they set out to achieve in mega sporting events.In three weeks’ time, Indian athletes will strive for glory at the Asian Games in Incheon. Just weeks back, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games brought some exciting young talents into the limelight. For the likes of new sensations Malaika Goel (shooting), Vinesh Phogat (wrestling) and Dipa Karmakar (gymnastics), the Asian Games will be the next big platform to test their mettle. For others like London Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, Incheon will be the turf to judge his abilities and prime himself for the 2016 Rio Olympics.There are some like archer Deepika Kumari who are seeking redemption. Having drawn a blank at the London Olympics two years ago despite being among the best in the world, Deepika is now spurred on to get rid of the big-stage fear.Whatever the reasons, Indian athletes are now seeing the Asian Games as the stepping stone towards the Olympics.”Indeed, the Asian Games will serve as preparation for the Rio Olympics,” Dutt said on the sidelines of the official sendoff function of the ‘Samsung Sports Ratnas’ for the Asian Games.”Since I have shifted to the new weight class (65kg), I have competed in two events and won gold. But at the Asian Games, the competition will be of the level of the World Championships or the Olympics because all the top wrestlers will be there. If you win at Asian Games, you know you have the potential to become a world or Olympic champion. I am aiming for gold but, more importantly, it will help me gauge myself in the weight class in a more competitive field and help me on my path to the Rio Olympics.”advertisementSixteen-year-old Malaika Goel, who shot to fame after winning a silver medal in the CWG women’s 10m air pistol event, asserts that being the baby of the contingent should not lower the expectations from her. “I don’t approach an event thinking I am just 16. Anyone is contender for medal be it 16 or 42. It will be a tougher competition but I just want to do my best.”Deepika recalls how life had become tough after the London debacle. “It was so difficult to come out of that low phase. But I have regained my form recently. I have learnt how to handle the crowd,” she said.Seasoned shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu said: “Asian Games is probably the most high-pressure event after the Olympics. It will be all about how we handle the pressure on a particular day,” he said.For the boxers though, the recent developments regarding Boxing India have been giving them a tough time, because their participation is uncertain. “We have been working very hard. So it will be disappointing if we don’t get to participate or we don’t have our national flag raised when we win gold,” said L. Devendro Singh.Samsung has picked 12 athletes as ‘Samsung Sports Ratnas’. Samsung South West Asia president and CEO, B.D. Park, and IOA president N. Ramachandran signed an MoU announcing Samsung as the official partner – Asian Games 2014 for the Indian contingent.last_img

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