Extra officials with right intention will be funded for: Rathore

Sports Minister looks to professionalise TOPS

Extra officials with right intention will be funded for: Rathore

The run-up to the Commonwealth Games saw a major uproar over the size of the Indian contingent with the Indian Olympic Association miffed with the Sports Ministry's strict approach in its approval of extra officials.

The Union Sports Minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, made it clear that funding extra officials was never an issue with him, provided the intent was right.

The Ministry ended up clearing the Commonwealth Games contingent of 325 members which included 21 extra officials. According to Rathore, Indian athletes were capable of bettering their 2014 Glasgow performance, where they finished fifth with 64 medals (15 gold, 30 silver, 19 bronze).

"We have tried to ensure a whole lot of sports science people accompany them as per their desire. We took care of wherever they wanted to train. All their personal coaches, foreign coaches are with them," Rathore told DH.

"We funded some of the extra officials, who were sports science people. Funding is not the problem. If you can convince us that it is for the right intention, the extra official or super extra official, I will pay for it. Our intent is to provide best facilities in the  run-up to the CWG.

"Our athletes must go and perform to the best of their abilities and forget about winning or losing. If they give their best, I am sure we can go beyond the tally of 2014."

India's start to the Games, however, was fraught with controversies. The breach of "needle policy" by the boxing contingent caused unrest, before being let off by a warning. Rathore, who has been in touch with the Indian officials, said: "Our firm belief is we are funding sportspersons so that they become positive icons and role models for younger generation. It's important that they are disciplined and they win fairly and not winning at any cost. We will not support anyone who wins a medal by hook or crook."

Rathore also spoke on the conflict of interest issue which prompted a spate of government-appointed national observers to resign, most recent being acclaimed long-jumper Anju Bobby George and Olympic medallist weightlifter Karnam Malleswari.

"There were a few instances when the selection process was taking place, at various levels, it was felt that the people who are running the academies were more interested and more focused on trying to get their own people into the team. It became a matter of concern for us," he said.

"I asked my officers to get in touch with all these individuals directly. There was no letter that had gone out by then, and I said ask all of them to send an email to us saying that, 'I feel this will create a conflict and therefore, having been fair all my life, I decided to step down'. This was the message that went across. Unfortunately, Abhinav (Bindra) tweeted about it saying I resign from this.

"There were a few people reluctant to leave and it was decided within the ministry to write to them. That was a mistake at the ministry level that the officer made a copy to all of them. I am enquiring into it. But we will take every opportunity to try and seek their counsel."

Rathore also said they were looking to professionalise Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), and assured with the appointment of knowledgeable officers, they would further improve it.

"Amongst all the nations, in terms of incentives for our athletes, we are probably top 5. And in terms of funding we are top 10. The committee identifies the best medal prospects. Are we winning 200 medals? No. But we are funding 200 athletes. Of course, there is a massive scope for improvement and we are working towards that," he said.

 

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