The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Dhruv Batra on Tuesday said he is confident of sending 125 athletes to the next year's Tokyo Olympics.
On the occasion of International Olympic Day, sporting legends Leander Paes, Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George, and former dragflick specialist from the Netherlands Floris Bovelander were joined by Batra to engage in an impactful webinar discussion on the momentum towards post-COVID-19 Olympics.
The webinar, organised by the Department of Sports and Youth Services, Odisha in association with Naval Tata Hockey Academy and hosted by former cricketer Deep Dasgupta, saw conversations that laid emphasis on providing greater assistance and support for elite athletes to return to high-intensity training.
"The next one year is going to be critical and the focus will be on elite athletes. While we have 78 athletes who have already qualified, I am confident the numbers will go up to about 125 athletes once international competitions and qualifying meets resume around the globe. The preparations will be a joint effort by the Government of India, IOA, NSFs and I feel this is a situation where best needs to be taken out of the worst," Batra said.
He further stated, "Few sports like hockey, weight-lifting and athletics have already started and shooting too will begin sometime in mid-July. I am in touch with all the NSFs, as well as some athletes and I am optimistic we are on track for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021."
Olympic Champion, Bindra insisted that a holistic approach is what will make the difference.
"Olympics is once in 4 years, and athletes have only one shot at glory, and it's important to have a holistic approach, use science, use medicine, use technology and engineering in training and that will make a difference," Bindra said.
Underlining the importance of tapping talent in the rural belt, seven-time Olympian and multiple grand slam winner Leader Paes said, "I would like to thank Odisha government for going deeper into the rural areas in the state to find talent. Most of India's talent is untouched, and it is great that Odisha has set an example of creating excellence at grass root level. This is very important. More global events are coming to Odisha and while the state has done fabulously in hosting the Men's World Cup in 2018 among other events, the programs rolled out to develop grass root sports in association with corporates is commendable. I always believe when great minds come together, great results can be achieved."