12 February, 2011

Gymnast Ashish Kumar rues lack of adequate training facilities

Ashish Kuma - IND

Ashish Kuma - INDDoha (QAT), AGU office: February 12, 2011: Gymnast Ashish Kumar, who won laurels at the Commonwealth and Asian Games last year, today expressed fears that his aim to win a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics may end up as an “unfulfilled dream” due to lack of adequate training facilities in the country. “Of late, I have begun to fear that the ambition may end up as an unfulfilled dream,” Kumar said here today. “Last year was fantastic and had left me bubbling with enthusiasm. After having bagged medals at both the Commonwealth and the Asian Games, I had become confident that I would be able to do my country proud at the London Olympics due next year,” he added. The 20-year-old son of a railway employee, who bagged a bronze and a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games before winning a bronze at the Asian Games, to become the only Indian to have achieved the feat, was speaking at a press conference organised by his alma mater, the city-based National Sports Academy (NSA). “Ever since I won a medal for my country on the Chinese soil, I have been confident of winning a medal, hopefully a gold, at the Olympics. I have been training hard with a view to realising the dream. “I do not think there would be much difficulty in getting through the qualifiers which are to be held in Japan. But thereafter it is going to be an uphill journey and that is where prospects, as of now, do not appear bright,” he said. “I have been working as hard as I can. But that is not enough when you are going to compete with the best in the world. This is a realisation that is growing stronger within me with every passing day. “I am grateful to all my countrymen for the affection they have showered on me but I wonder whether if it will get me an Olympic medal, considering the abysmal lack of facilities here,” the dejected gymnast said. “I will give my best shot at the London Olympics, come what may. But unless my training and preparations are backed by adequate infrastructure, there is little likelihood of the efforts bearing fruit,” he said. Speaking at the same press meet, NSA’s founder and the gymnast’s mentor, UK Mishra, said he has already “taken up the matter with the Ministry of Sports and the Sports Authority of India”, and claimed that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati too, has given “assurance of all possible help”. “Last month Ashish was felicitated at Lucknow along with other CWG medal winners from UP by CM Mayawati. I had taken the opportunity to apprise her of the difficulties we are facing on account of paucity of resources following which she gave me the assurance of all possible help,” Mishra said. “Later, I wrote to the CM about equipments that we need to help Ashish prepare for international meet, which involved a cost of about Rs 15 crore. “I have also written to the Union Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India regarding the help we need. Now, we are awaiting their response,” he added.