Assam Olympic Association and UKAA celebrate the inclusion of karate in Tokyo Olympics, 2020, in Guwahati recently. File picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Aug. 19: The United Karate-do Association of Assam (UKAA) will move the Karate Association of India (KAI) to provide a World Karate Federation (WKF) qualified coach here to provide professional training with karate included in the Olympics charter.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had on August 3 decided to add five disciplines - karate, baseball, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing - to the sports programme for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
UKAA general secretary Nagen Bongjang said he would meet the top brass of the KAI to chalk out a training regime.
"Assam is ranked eighth among states in karate . Martial arts are popular here, but more as a means of self-defence and not sport. The trainees lack an aim. Now that karate has been included in the Olympics, the karatekas will be motivated. However, to compete they will need professional training for which I will urge the KAI for a WKF trainer," Bongjang told The Telegraph.
"The Northeast is definitely a talent pool. The players here need focused training regime starting from diet and daily routine to endurance, flexibility and strength exercises if they wish to compete in the international platform. A professional WKF trainer can do that, but they are expensive. A WKF trainer takes up to Rs 15,000 per session, which the state association cannot bear. That is why we need help from the national associations," he explained.
A team of 50 karatekas from Assam participated in the recent Independence Day International Karate Championship and bagged 17 medals, including four gold, three silver and 10 bronze, in the India Independence Cup International Karate-do Championship held at Talkatora Indoor Stadium in New Delhi.
Last November, Mainu Saikia from Lakhimpur represented India in the Junior World Championship, the first from Assam to do so.
However, Bongjang is not very optimistic about India's chances of winning medals in Olympics 2020 unless a focused plan and programme is implemented in the next four years. "There are 188 countries from five continents under the WKF. Of these, only 12 will qualify for the Olympic Games. India is lagging far behind . Even if the selection is done continent-wise, India will have to compete with 46 countries. So, India's chances are pretty slim in the next Olympics," Bongjang said.
"That is why, we are planning long-term. We are concentrating on the junior and cadet-level players. By 2020, they will be 18 years old or in the 2024 Olympics, they will be seniors. By that time, the current seniors will already retire. We will have to make their bases strong, and increase their international exposure. With proper training and exposure, someone from Assam can be in the Olympics representing India in karate. If not in 2020, definitely in 2024," said a hopeful Bongjang.