Rathore: 'Highlight of the Asian Games has been the emergence of young athletes'

The Union Sports Minister said, a 16-year-old representing India in shooting and winning a gold medal is fascinating and he sees a very different youth, fully renewed with great resolve.

Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore with a part of the India's Asian Games contingent.   -  PTI

Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore rates the performance of the young medal winners as the gain from the recently-concluded 2018 Asian Games.

“I think the highlight of the Asian Games has been the emergence of young athletes. Thirty-one medallists were age 21 and below and that too not in regular sports but the newly introduced ones like kurash and sepak takraw,” he said in a chat with Sportstar.

For Rathore, a silver medallist in shooting at the Athens Olympics, it was a throwback to his times. “I believe that having the right attitude and seeing a larger picture is the first step to any success story. I have been through this grind myself and therefore I have seen this from close quarters.

Read: India signs off with best medal haul at Asian Games

"As a Sports Minister the least that I can do is to enable them with an environment which is more conducive and help them achieve their goals. When it comes to the country, we will never give up, never say no, never feel defeated,” he explained.

He continued, “Look at young athletes that have emerged. They are not unnerved. Sense of belonging is there. A 16-year-old representing India in shooting and winning a gold medal is absolutely fascinating. It’s like changing the game. I see a very different youth, fully renewed with great resolve.

"Each athlete who has represented India has his own story of a unique challenge that he would have overcome. Our performance can grow if we start celebrating our failures too, learn why we missed and take the right steps to give it our best shot.”

Gallery: India's shining stars at 2018 Asian Games

Rathore added, “There is a dichotomy that you can either focus on elite athletes or take sports to the masses. In fact, both approaches are interwoven. Khelo India (KI) has been a truly game changer for Indian sports. We have decided to allocate 1,756 crore rupees for development of sports under KI scheme.”

Throwing light on the approach to sports in his tenure, Rathore noted, “It’s about celebrating medals. The Prime Minister wanted to know who all had done their personal best. So it’s not just the medal. It’s about how you are performing. We will appreciate performance when you give your best. This attitude of nothing to fear has a cascading impact.”

Also read: Will Asiad gold lead to greater glory in athletics?

On the menace of doping, the Sports Minister insisted, “There is a communication and awareness campaign going on at training camps and all places where there is congregation of athletes. There is penalisation also. Organisers of sports events where such things tend to happen more have been told to be extremely watchful and track their athletes.

"The federations are very chary about athletes not training at the camps. These things will reduce the issue of doping. Selection is done on the assurance that you are dope free. You can’t just appear out of the blue for selection and break marks.”

Also read: Not the usual sob story: India’s medallists are a varied lot

Rathore assured that the coaches re being evaluated too. “You cannot have great athletes without great coaches. We plan to train coaches at every level so that there is a steady progression linkage in the training that an athlete receives over his entire career — from playground to podium.”