Diving may be a spectacular Olympic sport with a huge fan following, but it is trying to make its mark in India.
After several decades of neglect, the sport is trying to build its identity in India – which has two Arjuna awardees, Bajrangi Prasad (1961) and Manjari Bhargava (1974) – with the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) taking baby steps to uplift diving.
The SFI has urged the Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune, to host camps to let the non-Services divers avail the one-of-its-kind facility on their campus. The federation is also keen to rope in a foreign coach and get International Swimming Federation (FINA) scholarships for some divers.
Mayur Vyas, a FINA technical committee member and an international judge who has officiated in the Olympics, underlines how the sport has changed in the last 40-50 years.
“Earlier, only wooden boards were used. The techniques were different. Now the standard has gone up and the young divers are doing very well. India is also improving. Our divers are getting medals in Asian junior championships,” Vyas told Sportstar on the sidelines of the National aquatic championships here.
“Siddharth Pardesi has competed in the World championships. He has got a FINA scholarship (since 2019 and trained in Kazan, Russia, for a year). Now, he will train in Canada for a year and will compete in some events. That will be a good exposure.
“London Singh is another promising diver. We intend to get sponsorship for a woman diver.”
According to Vyas, infrastructure is a major roadblock in the sport’s development. “There is only one set of infrastructure at the ASI. We are requesting them to allow the camps to be conducted on their premises so that everybody can get the opportunity to train there.
“Building infrastructure is an expensive affair. You need a dry chamber on around 18000-19000 square feet area with a dry pit. The divers dive into the pit with foam. We need other equipment such as a trampoline, twisting belt and somersault belt.”
The SFI is also dependent on the ASI to spot talents and has communicated with the Amy to consider recruiting women divers. “I have already spoken to them, they will start it. I am very hopeful,” said Vyas.
Appointing a foreign coach is also on the priority list. “I have contacted some Australian and American coaches. I think we will get one coach,” Vyas said.