Four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anjali Bhagwat believes India has come a long way to become a ‘sporting country’. It is not only one sport in which the nation is taking rapid strides, but athletes have now made India proud by bagging medals in prominent international events across disciplines also.
“Earlier, we used to do well in specific events. But now in all disciplines, right from athletics, where Neeraj (Chopra) gave us a breakthrough - shooting was already there - to now we have badminton, boxing, hockey (sic). Everywhere we are shining. We are so happy,” Bhagwat says.
2022 has been a landmark year in many ways. Indians not only won 61 medals in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games but also ended up winning multiple global competitions. With the Olympics in Paris about a year away, this can only be a sign of better things to come. Bhagwat, who is a part of the Sportstar Aces Awards jury, says, “We had a fantastic run last year with so many international competitions. Even in the domestic competitions, we could find and hunt great young talent which we would like to nurture for the future Games. We had a really tough time selecting awardees from the nominees but all athletes who were nominated had great achievements last year.”
One category where Bhagwat particularly faced a tough time to circle in on a winner was the Young Achievers’. “I am actually happy we had so much difficulty in selecting the young achievers because we have plenty of young talent in India. That’s our future and I am so excited about it. We had a really tough time.”
Consistency is what appeals to Bhagwat the most. “There are many qualities due to which an athlete excels at the international level but what excites me the most is consistency. Not a spark or fluke in one competition but throughout the year if a player has been consistent it matters a lot.”
Bhagwat plans to meet and greet athletes across fields during the Aces ceremony in Mumbai on February 27. She said: “I am looking forward to meeting all the athletes, achievers and nominees. I would like to share my experiences (with them) and (know more about) their future plans so that I can help them if possible.”
Bhagwat, now a part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) committee, has her task cut out before the action shifts to the French capital in 2024. “Since the Paris Olympics is a year away, I have the achievements and data of every athlete. I am happy with the improvement. So, I am looking forward to the great planning ahead of the Olympics so that it can be ensured that the athletes deliver their peak performances there.”
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