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Postponement of Olympics a huge boost for India hopefuls

The Indian Olympic Association on Tuesday welcomed the decision
National Stadium, the main arena for the Tokyo Olympics.

Angshuman Roy   |   Calcutta   |   Published 24.03.20, 09:34 PM

Former India badminton chief coach Vimal Kumar feels the decision to postpone Olympics to 2021 is a huge boost for Indian shuttlers.

“It will help us to do a lot of introspection. In the last few months, training was done in a haphazard way, which has led to a slump in the performances of the players. I think in the next one year we would be able to find the flaws and iron out the defects,” Vimal told The Telegraph from Bangalore on Tuesday evening.

While PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth and the men’s doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag were almost sure of qualifying for Tokyo if the Games were organised from July 24 to August 9 this year, the likes of Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth were in danger of missing the cut and Vimal thinks it’s a lifeline for them.

“Yes, it’s good for the players who might have missed out on the Olympics this year. Now the world body (BWF) will have to do a lot of work. How the Olympic qualification tournaments would be played, what happens to the players who have already qualified and other things will have to be decided,” the two-time national champion, who was Saina’s coach during the Rio Olympics, said.

Postponement is good news for young Bengal shooter Mehuli Ghosh too. When the World Cup in New Delhi was postponed due to the pandemic, it was heartbreak for the 10metre air rifle shooter as the tournament would have given her a chance to score some valuable points.

Apuruvi Chandila and Anjum Mudgil earned India two quota places for the Tokyo Games in the same event. “It’s good news for me. Let’s see how many tournaments we get after the pandemic subsides,” the 18-year-old said.

The number of Olympic quotas in shooting stands at a record 15 after a highly successful 2019. Last year the Indian shooters topped all the rifle-pistol World Cups and the season-ending World Cup Finals. Mehuli doesn’t think the world body would do away with those quota places and go for afresh.

“That’s not possible since you will not have time. I think the quota places will remain,” she said.

Her coach and Olympian Joydeep Karmakar also sounded excited.

“The postponement was a matter of time. Now it has to be seen what the qualification tournaments would be. There could be an ISSF World Cup next year and some selection trials organised by the National Rifle Association of India. It’s very fluid right now. But yes, it’s definitely a shot in the arm for the shooters who would have missed out on 2020 Tokyo Games,” he said.

And for top table tennis star Sharath Kamal, it’s a mixed feeling.

“Yes, it’s good news that IOC has decided to postpone the Games by a year given the situation worldwide. But for me, it’s one more year of non-stop competition and travelling.

“Last two years, I slogged hard for Tokyo. This postponement, in a way, has bogged me down. I was thinking of slowing down post Tokyo 2020. It will not be possible now,” Sharath, who won the Oman Open earlier this month, said.

Sharath is now waiting for the outcome of the International Table Tennis Federation meeting on March 29. “That meeting is important. I am not sure how the Olympic qualification tournaments would be played,” he said.

India table tennis coach Soumyadip Roy also welcomed the decision.

Women paddlers Manika Batra and Suthirtha Mukherjee’s qualifications suffered a blow when the Asian meet in Bangkok was postponed due to the virus attack.

“The world is shut down and the qualification tournaments for many disciplines were either cancelled or postponed. Now, it’s a relief for all the athletes,” he said.

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who has already qualified for Tokyo in late January, said: “The decision allows us a year more to plan and train for the Olympics. There will be some impact on preparations over the next few months till the situation is brought under control, but that is something that all athletes are facing equally.”

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday welcomed the decision to postpone the Olympics, saying the country’s athletes have been relieved of having to train during a global health crisis.  

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