Not many London-bound Indian athletes have the comfort of having their mentors beside them during the Olympics, as the sports ministry has restricted the strength of the support staff to just 36 coaches and four managers.
DNA has learnt that many of India’s top track and field athletes wanted their personal coaches with them and the IOA restriction has left them fuming. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) handpicked five coaches, giving preference to those who are seen as medal contenders.
The three lucky athletes, who have been allowed to take their personal coaches along, are Tintu Luka, discus throwers Vikas Gowda and Krishna Poonia. Vikas will be accompanied by his father-cum-coach Shive Gowda while Krishna’s husband-cum-coach Virender Poonia has also got the nod. The AFI has averted a potential furore by allowing PT Usha to travel with Tintu, who will take part in the 800m race.
Chief national coach Bahadur Singh has also got a ticket for London along with RK Gandhi, who has been selected for the three qualified walkers.
“Taking five coaches for 14 athletes is strictly as per the quota fixed by the IOA. Virender Poonia and Shive Gowda’s names were cleared on the basis
of medal prospects in their events and Usha’s presence would definitely boost the morale of our athletes,” a top AFI official said.
The sports ministry on Thursday released the list of 142-member Indian contingent submitted by the IOA. The contingent includes 81 athletes (in 13 sports disciplines), 36 coaches, four managers apart from the medical staff and contingent officials.
The biggest surprise came from badminton where no female coach has been selected despite the presence of three women shuttlers — Saina Nehwal, Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta — in the squad.
Badminton Association of India’s (BAI) decision to take
P Gopichand and Indonesian double team coach Edwin Iriawan to Olympics has disappointed some players.
DNA has learnt that Ashwini and Jwala wanted former India champion Madhumita Bisht to accompany them as she has been with the team for a while now.
“Knowing well that the team has some women players who have a good understanding with Madhumita, it would have made sense to send her along,” an official told this paper, adding: “Without any woman official in the camp, the women shuttlers may find difficulty in so many things.”
This is in stark contrast to AITA’s decision to allow Sania Mirza’s mother Naseema to accompany the women’s tennis team. Naseema has been appointed manager of the team even though she has no specialisation.