25-30 athletes can qualify for Tokyo Olympics: Herrmann

Indian athletics’ High-Performance Director Volker Herrmann is barely three weeks in the country but finds himself pleasantly surprised by its potential. The German believes at least 25-30 athletes should qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

In the Rio Olympics, 33 Indian athletes participated after shot-putter Inderjeet Singh and sprinter Dharambir had to withdraw for flunking the dope test.

“We have 25-30 athletes in our mind and we would be doing everything to ensure they qualify for Tokyo Olympics. In men’s and women’s 400m relay, the eight finalists at World Championships will directly qualify for Tokyo and in certain ways, that is the easiest for us to qualify. Mixed 400m relay is another event we can qualify,” Herrmann said.

“We are in a good situation in javelin throw and 400m, where Hima is progressing in the right direction and Muhammed Anas has bettered his own record to qualify for World Championships. We will work on the strengths and weaknesses of our athletes. But we need to look forward to the 2024 and 2028 Olympics.”

Herrmann had his plan cut out. “For Tokyo, we will work with the current athletes in the high performance team. Secondly for 2024, besides the current athletes, we have to find talented ones at the youth and junior levels who have the potential to be at the top level in five years from now. They can be 15, 16 and 17 years of age,” he said.

“For the 2028 Olympics, we have to work with 10, 11 or 12-year-old children. These are athletes with which we can initiate change in Indian athletics. India should develop its own philosophy and not copy it. Every country has its own specific challenges. The working of officials should be streamlined and coaching methods should be the same throughout the country.”

The World Championships in September-October will be the first big competition awaiting the 35-year-old who previously worked as technical director for Singapore athletics. With Worlds scheduled late in the season, Herrmann said Indians like the other world athletes would have to make changes in their training schedules.

“The coaches have to rush the whole preparation model. The athletes will need to peak twice, the first (peak) right now and second by the end of September. We are preparing a series of competition to raise our performance level and then we will continue on a slightly higher level with higher intensity towards World Championships,” he said.

“The ideal training is to ensure 100 per cent in a few events like World Championships or Olympics.”

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