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Sports Authority of India expects a record 100 athletes to qualify for Rio Olympics


   New Delhi: In a rather ambitious project, Sports Authority of India (SAI) expects a record of 100 plus athletes qualifying for next year's Rio Olympics.

"Though qualification process has barely started, our own assessment is that if women’s hockey team qualifies we should comfortably cross the 100 mark. As far as number of medals is concerned, it could be anything between 10 to 15. We would not like to settle for anything less than 10," SAI Director General Injeti Srinivas told PTI.

  India won an unprecedented six medals (2 silver and 4 bronze) at the London Olympics after sending a record 83-athlete contingent in 13 disciplines.

  The discipline from where SAI is expecting medals are shooting, boxing, badminton, wrestling, archery and tennis.

     Though the men's hockey team has done well to qualify for Rio Games, finishing on the stadium will be a tall order.The first step that Srinivas took since taking charge in March was introducing a 'personalised contact system' for 200-odd athletes who are likely to qualify for the Olympics.     The initiative, which allows athletes to get in touch with SAI officials including Srinivas himself for their grievances and training needs,  has worked so far, said the Director General   

“The system has been introduced and athlete’s respective federations are being kept in the loop as well. Athletes have started using this facility; some of them have personally called me. A boxer wanted to train in Hisar but then we asked him how he will train there when everyone else is in NIS Patiala. So he agreed and stayed back in Patiala. The main point here is that athletes should have the confidence to talk to someone who can give them a definite answer without following too many procedures," said Srinivas.

     He further said a dedicated project officer has been assigned to cater to the needs of athletes in each Olympic discipline. "Without any fear the athletes can contact the project officer, who has the authority to sanction Rs 5 lakh on the spot if the need arises."

   Srinivas said there are always resource constraints at SAI but promised that Olympic-bound athletes will be provided full support. "There are always resource constraints and we have to live with that. At this stage, resources are not affecting our programme. Training athletes for Olympics should not be a problem," he said.

Let us hope that the optimism of the SAI authorities will translate into medals at Rio.

Our Sports Correspondent