SAI steps into gymnastics crisis, forms seven-member committee
New Delhi: In the absence of a recognised gymnastic federation, the Sports Authority of India has took the onus on itself and formed a high-level committee to provide the country`s gymnasts best training facilities and prepare them for next year`s Commonwealth and Asian Games.
Administrative wrangling and lackadaisical attitude of the two disaffiliated federations have cost the gymnasts dear in the last two years, which led to them participating in two separate senior nationals at Allahabad and Rai and missing four World Cups last year.
The SAI has now intervened and formed a committee, under the chairmanship of its Director General Jiji Thomson, to prepare the Indian team for the CWG in Glasgow, Scotland and Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
The committee members include Ram Niwas (government observor), G S Bawa (former chief coach, NIS Patiala), Dr D K Rathore (national coach and Dronacharya awardee), Dr Kalpana Debnath (Arjuna awardee), Rupali Singh (Arjuna awardee), Radhika Shreemal and Roque Dais (SAI) apart from Thomson.
The committee, which was formed in April last month, has been mandated to identify and prepare a list of probables for the two quadrennial events and provide the gymnasts with best training facilities by holding preparatory camps for them.
"The committee will look after the preparations for CWG and Asian Games as the players are suffering because of the infighting between the two federations. We have submitted a proposal to the SAI where we have given them the list of probables, date (May 25) to commence the preparatory camp and choice of venues for the camp -- Delhi, Gealior, Kolkata and Patiala," a committee member told PTI.
"The infighting had cost India`s best gymnast Ashish Kumar a chance to represent the country at the London Olympics last year because the GFI did not push for a wild card entry for him. We don`t want Ashish and other gymnasts to suffer further because of the administrative wrangling," the member added.
Medals at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, first ever in the history of Indian gymnastics, had made the 27-year-old Allahabad athlete a household name, but the disaffiliation of the two federations by the Sports Ministry has left many bright gymnasts like Kumar ponder over their future.
The two federations, which are presently fighting a legal battle in the court over recognition, involve one led by Jaspal Singh Kandhari from Chandigarh and the other by Haryana`s P V Rathee.
"The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique, the world body of the gymnastics, recognises the group led by Kandhari but since the matter is sub-judice, nothing much could be done.
"The SAI also cannot release funds to them as they need clarity on certain issue such as which federation to recognise. A federation should come out with its annual calendar and requirement of funds but since both are fighting a legal battle, nothing as such has been submitted to SAI by them," the official said.
It is to be noted that it has been more than one year since an Indian team went overseas for an international competition. Railways-employed gymnasts, which include the name of Ashish, have been participating in only departmental competitions after a Sports Ministry directive barred them from participating in the Nationals and other major meets.