Kolkata, March 22 (IANS) Despite boasting of names that can bring India a medal from the coming Commonwealth Games, the dilly-dallying of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in naming coaches for the gymnastics team is hampering its preparations.
There were also reports that the IOA had decided against sending any official — including coaches — with the six-member gymnastics contingent.
But IOA secretary Rajeev Mehta said they are trying to send coaches with the squad and the issue would be fixed in a few days.
“We are trying to send the best coaches with the squad. We cannot send anybody randomly. Let’s see. I cannot comment any further at the moment, but whatever is best for the boys and girls, we will do. We will take a call in the next few days,” Mehta told IANS over phone from New Delhi.
According to sources in the Gymnastics Federation of India, the governing body for the sport in the country sent names of coaches Ashok Mishra for the men’s team and Minara Begum for the women’s team at the start of this month, but till date there has been no approval from the IOA.
The Commonwealth Games start on April 4 in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
“The Federation had sent names of Ashok Mishra and Minara Begum to the IOA for approval sometime back. But there is still no intimation on that. The names were sent after consulting with the gymnasts and is as per their choice,” the source told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Coach Mishra said he is yet to get any official word on his appointment, adding that preparation is bound to be hampered unless the team is handed over to the coach well in advance.
“I have not got any official communication till now. I don’t know whether I will be travelling to Gold Coast or not. We have a good team but preparation for CWG is bound to get affected if the coach does not spend time with the gymnasts,” Mishra told IANS.
The likes of Ashish Kumar and Aruna Reddy will lead India’s charge at the CWG in the absence of Dipa Karmakar, who is recuperating from a right knee surgery.
Reddy created history recently by becoming the first Indian to win a medal (bronze) at the Gymnastics World Cup. Ashish Kumar is also the first person to win medals for gymnastics for India in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He won a silver and a bronze.
Besides the duo, Rings and Parallel Bar specialist Rakesh Patra and Yogeshwar Singh are in the men’s team while Pranati Nayak and Pranati Das complete the women’s contingent.
The selection of the gymnastics team has had its share of controversies as well, with the International Gymnastics Federation recently telling the IOA that the registration and selection of athletes for the Games was the prerogative of the national federation.
The IOA had appointed a selection committee to pick the six-member team for the CWG and held trials in New Delhi from February 12 to 14.
The Gymnastics Federation of India has been mired in factionalism over the past few years.
While the world body recognises the faction led by Sudhakar Shetty, the IOA and the Sports Ministry do not recognise any group.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has been directly assisting the gymnasts in training and organising exposure tours.
(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at [email protected])