Bernard Dunne, the high performance director of Indian boxing, feels top boxers of the country should find some time to develop their game instead of mindlessly competing in one event after another.
Dunne says athletes should be responsible about their career and select their events.
“That’s how you get injuries (by competing in one competition after another), that’s how you don’t develop, you stay the same, you don’t change, you don’t grow. We need to constantly challenge that one or two per cent in terms of improvement because at the elite level you need to get those small gains. My job is to polish those athletes… and make them understand that it is not about competition, competition and competition. It is about growing, it’s about understanding yourself. Ultimately, it is their career,” Dunne said during an interaction on the sidelines of the National Boxing Championships.
Personally, Dunne does not want selection trials prior to every competition. “It needs to be fully agreed with the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) but my opinion is if you are holding selection trials for every competition, we will just go competition, competition and competition. So before a major event your only focus becomes winning a trial.”
After advising Poonam Poonia (originally a 57kg boxer who defeated Olympian Simranjit Kaur to become National champion in 60kg) about her priority, Dunne made his point.
“I want to give her a chance to show ‘I am your athlete to go to the World championships’ because after the Worlds very quickly we are going to be in September and I have the qualifier (Asian Games). We have eight months training away from the qualifier and that’s going to go very quickly. Everything between then and now is preparation. We are focused on qualifying for the Olympic Games. Hopefully that means winning gold medals.”
The Irishman, who has worked with some world and Olympic champions, said, “My only concern is the athlete. I want my athletes to own their career.”
Bernard said he was keen to build a solid support system around the athletes.
“My job till Paris is to empower people who work around me. I want to grow coaches and have to have the right support staff - nutritionist, physiotherapist, sports scientists, strength and conditioning coaches - in place. I know the BFI is hungry for success and I hope that we get to recruit the best people,” said Bernard.
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