New Delhi: Terming the incident as "unfortunate", Sports Minister Ajay Maken today assured all kind of assistance to gold medallist archer Nisha Rani Dutta, who was forced to sell her world-class bow to repair her mud house.
Succumbing to abject poverty, the Bangkok Grand Prix medallist Dutta sold her archery equipment that costs Rs 4 lakh.
"It`s an unfortunate incident. The incident has come to my knowledge through the Sports Authority of India. We would extend all kind of help to the athlete," Maken told reporters on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the 60th All India Police Games (Wrestling Cluster) here.
"The state governments should make efforts to give employment to such athletes who need financial help. The players who, for some reasons, have failed to make it to the national or international level, the state governments should ensure that they also get the employment and don`t feel neglected," Maken added.
A world-class bow cost more than Rs one lakh and Rs 20,000 for a quiver of 20 arrows.
The 21-year-old from Pathmada village in the Jamshedpur district of Jharkhand had been trained by Tata Archery Academy and won gold medal at international archery championships, but discontinued the sport because of poverty.
Asked about the two Indian wrestlers qualifying for the London Olympics, Maken said, "I am confident that we would win more medals this time than the Beijing Olympics."
"The way our athletes are qualifying for the Olympics, we are hopeful of performing well in the London Games. It was always our aim to qualify for the London Games in maximum numbers than the Beijing Olympics.”
"Last Olympics, around 56 athletes had qualified for the Beijing Games and this time, with our Hockey team already qualifying for the London Games that consists of 16 players, we are confident that at least 80 athletes will qualify for the London Games," he said.
Amit Kumar (55kg) and Yogeshwar Dutt (60kg) today became the first set of Indian wrestlers to book their Games berths by clinching a gold and silver medal respectively at the Asian Qualifying Tournament even as the fancied Sushil Kumar (66kg) failed to make the cut in Astana, Kazakhstan.
With the government changing the eligibility criteria for the Bharat Ratna to widen its scope that would make the sportspersons eligible for the country`s highest civilian honour, Maken said, "I would be a happy man if some sportsperson gets this award."
"Who and when the sportsperson would get this award, that is something which Sports Ministry does not decide, it`s been decided by the Prime Minister," he said.
Asked specifically about honouring senior India batsman Sachin Tendulkar with the award, Maken said, "I just hope that a sporstperson soon gets this award."
Tendulkar scored his 100th international ton against Bangladesh during the recently-concluded Asia Cup in Mirpur.
The Bharat Ratna`s scope has been broadened and excellence in all fields of human endeavour is the new eligibility norm.
The change in rules came at the behest of the Sports Ministry. The country`s highest civilian award was initially restricted to fields such as Art, Literature, Science and Public Service.
First Published: Friday, March 30, 2012, 20:55