mid day editorial: Athletes need steadfast support from us

By mid day online desk | Mumbai

India's best ever medal haul of 69, four more than the 65 they won in Guangzhou, China, in 2010, gives us reason to cheer

It is time for us to be bullish about Indian sport as the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games, are done and dusted win. India's best ever medal haul of 69, four more than the 65 they won in Guangzhou, China, in 2010, gives us reason to cheer. Yet, for us to get on track for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, it has to be back to work post Jakarta celebration.

First, we must see the rewards announced for medal winners being given as soon as possible. Politicians who have promised prize money and jobs to certain athletes need to honour their word. This should be done as quickly as possible to build faith and credibility. This is also important to keep the sporting caravan moving along.

When youngsters see our athletes rewarded for their effort, politicians delivering on promises, then they, too, realise that sport does give you paybacks. This is how to keep a lifeline of talent. We need to cultivate a continual line of sportsmen and women.

Take a hard look at our facilities at grassroots level and start improving them. This means something as basic as changing rooms at sporting venues. This is from where your future champions are going to come. Start paying attention and give special care at the base. Listen to the returning athletes. If they have valid grievances, work on plugging those lacunae. Do not simply brush off concerns.

Euphoria about Jakarta is fine, but the Olympics will be much tougher. India is now looking for podium finishes on the biggest stage of all, and that means addressing every shortcoming, if any, that was displayed at Indonesia. We have to be the staunch and steadfast support system our athletes want and need. Politicians, officials, sports ministers and ordinary public, show that we are with Team India right from the start line to the finish.

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