Abhinav Bindra praises the Odisha model

Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra praised the ‘Odisha Model’ for its nimbleness in decision-making and using sport as a power to influence people’s lives.

File picture of Abhinav Bindra.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra on Saturday said ‘human well-being of athletes’ was important while seeking high performance.

“Athletes are busy bodies. Sitting at home for five months is extremely challenging not just physically, but mentally. We have to create a psychologically safe environment for them because that is the core of high performance.

“Human well-being of athletes has to be put at the heart and centre of high performance. The pandemic is a great reminder for all of us, because in normal circumstances the whole ecosystem of the sports world is pretty guilty as we just focus on the performance aspect of the athlete.

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“Until and unless we really focus on the human well-being of that person, performance may not be optimum,” Bindra said during an online interaction — India’s podium dream: The Odisha Story — organised by FICCI.

Creating an environment

Praising the ‘Odisha Model’ for its nimbleness in decision-making and using sport as a power to influence people’s lives, Bindra said, “High performance is not just about getting 50 people together and expecting them to get gold medals. The core lies in creating an environment and culture of sport.

“We will be able to increase our medal tally in the Olympic Games or world level (events) when we just have more people participating in sport for the sheer joy of it…that's when high performance will be a by-product,” said Bindra, who also advocated the use of technology during the pandemic.

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Top badminton coach and former All-England champion P. Gopi Chand agreed. “The use of technology has come in more quickly because of the pandemic. Otherwise, it would have taken five to 10 years.”

Gopi, nevertheless, said the biggest impact would be on gaining back the confidence of kids and their parents to return to tournaments.

Taking a toll

Olympian Dilip Tirkey, the chairman of the Odisha Hockey Promotion Council (OHPC), said the pandemic had taken a toll on the athletes and hoped for an early start to training at the hockey academy.

Odisha Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera sounded confident about hosting the women’s under-17 football World Cup in February next. “The infrastructure work will be finished by September last,” said Behera.

Giving an account of 10 high-performance centres and grassroots programmes in Odisha, Sports Secretary Vishal Dev said the under-17 event would boost women’s football in 11 districts.

Vishal hoped the 2023 hockey World Cup, to be hosted in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, would increase the sport’s popularity in the hockey-crazy Sundargarh district.