New Delhi: Athletes have not been spared the blame in Sports Authority of India's review of the country's "lacklustre" Olympic performance even as it suggested a three-pronged strategy, including a thorough evaluation of coaches, for an improved performance in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The report prepared by SAI Director General Injeti Srinivas has pointed out that "some athletes showed physical fitness issues, which is a matter of concern and reflects on inadequate monitoring".
During the Games, star shuttler Saina Nehwal was not fully fit due to a knee injury which required surgery as soon as she came back to India.
It also said that some athletes "performed below par in terms of personal best, which again is a matter of concern."
At the same time, Srinivas also highlighted the near misses in shooting (Abhinav Bindra) and gymnastics (Dipa Karmakar) and the tough draws that proved to be the undoing of boxers.
"The lacklustre performance of the Indian contingent certainly requires deep introspection and remedial measures. While we do need to make some changes, but they necessarily require to be very radical changes," he stated in the report.
He did, however, recommend a greater scrutiny of the coaching staff attached with the athletes across all sports.
"Performance of coaches, especially foreign coaches, needs to be evaluated very minutely. Hiring of foreign coaches should be done very carefully and based on strong and proven track record," the report said.
As for the way forward, SAI recommended a strategy of identifying the best medal prospect and investing the most on them.
"A set of sports disciplines may be identified where we have very little presence and the objective is of participation in Olympics. These could include disciplines like swimming, triathlon, fencing, judo, taekwando etc.
"The next category should consist of disciplines where our effort would be on progression...to be within top-8/top-16 positions. Athletics is one major discipline here," the report stated.
SAI suggested that a maximum of 6 disciplines should be picked for specialised support.
"The final category would be medal-focussed disciplines. These cannot be more than 4 to 6 disciplines. Here our effort would be to have a strong bench-strength to minimise uncertainty in medals. Most countries with strong sports achievements have such specialised approach," it said.
"In these disciplines, we must ensure that our facilities are on par with the best in the world, the athletes are given the best in terms of training and exposure," it added.
The report has been sent to the Sports Ministry, which is also conducting a review of the performance....