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`Food for thought` for Sports Ministry ahead of London Oly

New Delhi: With emphasis on 2012 London Olympics, the Sports Authority of India has submitted a proposal to the Sports Ministry urging it to address the travelling and dietary problems faced by the Indian athletes while training and competing in international events abroad.

SAI Director General Desh Deepak Verma while interacting with the national campers and officials of the National Sports Federations (NSFs) observed that the athletes are not getting proper rest prior to their participation in international competitions.

It has also been noted that sportspersons specially in power events such as boxing, weightlifting and wrestling are devoid of healthy Indian food of their taste while competing and training abroad.

Keeping in mind these problems faced by the athletes, SAI came up with some recommendations to the Sports Ministry for consideration and to call a meeting under the chairmanship of the Sports Minister wherein secretary External Affairs may also be invited.

Suggestions include -- wherever the journey is more than eight hours, Indian teams may be allowed to travel three days prior to the event instead of two days as in the existing guidelines.

To overcome the food problem, Indian embassies may be asked through the Ministry of External Affairs to arrange Indian food from the nearest Indian restaurant in proximity of the hotel where Indian teams are being stayed.

"Generally, most of our athletes are vegetarian and they are provided with non-vegetarian food which they don`t eat. Also the vegetarian food they are provided with is not of proper quality and taste. That affects the performance of our athletes while participating in international events abroad," a senior SAI official said.

"Also an athlete needs proper rest before competing in any international event. Arriving early in a country will also help the athlete get acclimatise to the new environment.”

"Keeping all these issues in mind, we have sent a proposal to the Sports Ministry for their consideration. If the ministry gives its approval, it will help our athletes prepare better for the events. Our major emphasis is on the Power Games which need weight to be lost or gained," added the official.

While participating in the international competitions, many of the athletes in sports like weightlifting, wrestling and swimming have to compete in a series of categories. Many involve multiple games or finals in the same day making the task challenging enough for the athletes.

To prepare and deliver in such conditions, one needs to consider the proper rest and nutritional aspect seriously to be able to deliver 100 percent.

"It is essential that things are put in place to minimise the impact of travel on an athlete and look at his nutritional requirements," the official said.

PTI

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