What do Tokyo Olympics medal winners Neeraj Chopra, PV Sindhu, Lovlina Bargohain, Mirabai Chanu, Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia have in common? After all, what changed in the performance of the women’s and men’s hockey teams in the Olympics? Apart from the perseverance, determination and resilience of our athletes, it is the contribution of many foreign coaches and support staff members ranging from scientists and analysis advisors to physios, mental conditioning coaches and psychologists who have helped these players immensely. These coaches, especially those who have come from abroad, have brought a lot of change in the attitude and performance of our athletes. He has been mostly in the background but he has been instrumental in shaping the careers of these athletes. Talking about the career of gold medalist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, the late Gary Calvert of Australia and great javelin thrower Uv Hahn of Germany and Klaus Bartonitz of Australia gave it a new look. She was groomed by Sjoerd Marijne of the Netherlands, the coach of the women’s hockey team captained by Rani Rampal. Along with this, the coach of the men’s hockey team, Graham Reid coached him. Bronze medalist Lovlina and the women’s boxing team were accompanied by Rafael Bergamasco of Italy. He gave them a lot of training. Vinesh Phogat (Akos Woller), Ravi Dahiya (Kamal Malikov) and Deepak Poonia (Murad Giadarov), all in the top 5, were all trained by personal coaches for Tokyo. Bronze medalist badminton PV Sindhu is the first Indian woman player to have won two medals in the Olympics. He has had many foreign coaches in recent times. These include Indonesia’s Mulyo Handoyo, South Korea’s Kim Ji Hyun and Park Tae-sang. Park was in Tokyo with Sindhu. Talking about weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, US-based strength and conditioning coach Dr Aaron Horching’s rehabilitation sessions helped her overcome shoulder and lower-back problems. Altogether there were 32 overseas support staff with 126 athletes from 9 sports. In comparison, more than 50 Indian coaches went to Tokyo at government expense. There were seven coaches in athletics, six in hockey and four in badminton and wrestling, besides other coaches. Some foreign coaches and support staff also went to Tokyo on the logo P i.e. personal category. India has the largest number of foreign and high-performing directors in the current sports ecosystem. Its number is 38. Last year, the Sports Authority of India extended the contracts of 32 foreign coaches in 11 sports till 30 September 2021 so that the Tokyo Olympic-bound players could continue their training. Keeping an eye on Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028, SAI has decided to work out four-year contracts for foreign coaches and Indian coaches. The practice of hiring foreign coaches is not new. It began in the 1980s when the Athletics Federation began hiring experts from abroad. However, the boom started around the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when hockey, shooting and weightlifting started seeing talent from foreign coaches. It is no secret that India’s athletes and sports administrators give preference to foreign coaches over national coaches. This is due only to his experience of coaching champion teams, scientific understanding, strategic and technical understanding, right knowledge about food-supplementation and above all discipline and time bound thinking.
[Attribution to NBT]