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India’s preparation for Paris triggers optimism

Abhinav Bindra, Adille Sumariwalla, Kunal, Manisha Malhotra and moderator Sharda Ugra at the panel discussion on India’s preparation for Paris.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra optimistically visualised the country’s athletes bagging medals in double digits in the Paris Games.

Exchanging ideas in a panel discussion organised by the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI), Abhinav expressed his admiration for the current generation of athletes and their enormous self-belief.

“There are some similarities to my generation also. You have to show up and perform on the day. It is not easy. But, it is possible, if you cut out the past and the future, and live in the moment. Focus on the process of executing your skills”, said Abhinav.

The Ambassador of France in India, Thierry Mathou reminded everyone in a lighter vein that France was the runner-up in cricket when the game was part of the Olympics last time, as he looked forward to its return in Los Angeles.

He said that the Paris Games would be different in so many ways, starting with the opening ceremony on the river bank, as the prime focus was on innovation, sustainability, solidarity and equality.

Only the swimming pool has been built for the Games, while the rest of the venues or either temporary or renovated from existing facilities.

The president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), Adille Sumriwalla stated that a systematic process was followed from 2012 to have the best eco system, and that the enhanced results at all levels, be it the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games, World Championships or the Olympics, was a clear proof of athletics being on the right track.

“Master the process and go after it. Results will come”, Sumariwalla said.

The Joint Secretary of the Union Sports Ministry, Kunal stated that the government was doing everything possible to support sports at all levels, even though the support to the elite was more visible.

Tennis player Manisha Malhotra who was associated with the preparation of the country’s two Olympic gold medallists, Abhinav and Neeraj Chopra, through the Mittal Champions Trust and the JSW Sports respectively, said that both were “very sorted in their head, going into the Games”, despite pursuing such contrasting sports like shooting and throwing.

“What set them apart was that they had enough belief to go into the Games with a sense of peace and confidence”, Manisha said.

“I expect Paris to be the best Games for us. I can see shooting coming through this time”, she said.

She also pointed out that Abhinav was mentoring many athletes, not just shooters, and whoever wins gold would be having his imprint.

The president of the Pierre de Coubertin Family Association, Alexandra De Navacelle de Coubertin, expressed delight at the Olympic Movement expanding from 44 nations in 1924 to 206 countries, which was the basic goal of Pierre de Coubertin when he revived the Olympics.

“He was interested in education, and bringing sports in education”, recalled Alexandra, a fourth generation descendent of Pierre de Coubertin.

The three guiding principles of modern Olympics have been, “excellence, respect and friendship”. The motto has been taken a lot forward with gender equality apart from both Olympics and Paralympics having same logo and same venues this time in Paris.

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