Mirabai can deliver in Paris Games but has to compete in selective events, Weightlifting HPD


PTI, Jan 21, 2022, 5:04 PM IST

New Delhi: Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu can deliver again at the 2024 Paris Games but she will have to be selective in her competitions while preparing for the global showpiece, India’s newly-appointed weightlifting High-Performance Director Aveenash Pandoo said on Friday.

The Mauritian, who was appointed India’s first High-Performance Director (HPD) for weightlifting until the 2024 Paris Olympics, also outlined his roadmap.

“Going forward Mirabai will have to be very selective while choosing competitions because there is also another three years adding on to her age,” Pandoo said during a virtual press conference facilitated by the Sports Authority of India.

“It’s not easy, Eko Yuli Irawan of Indonesia is a four-time Olympic medallist, he has proved it can be done with a very selective and intelligent way of preparing.” He said Chanu’s coach Vijay Sharma will be able to put together a plan in that regard.

”They have a very good relationship, I fully trust it will happen. So yes, I’m confident Mirabai will further deliver in Paris Olympics,” Pandoo said.

The 46-year-old said his main focus will be on developing youth and junior programs. “The clear roadmap that has been put to me by SAI will be to get involved in youth and junior development programs.” Pandoo, who played a major role in helping two weightlifters win medals in the 2016 Rio Olympics during his tenure as HPD in Indonesia, said talent development identification will be his ”initial” focus, adding that he will take up an athlete-centric approach.

“I intend to look very strongly into a proper roadmap for Indian weightlifting with regards to talent identification program and how we can improve on that.” He will look after the coaching education program while also conducting a series of webinars or seminars with coaches and athletes.

“I don’t think India lacks equipment or coaches. We have to look at the coaching education. This is my next pillar. I will be very strong leading that coaching education program.” Talking about the trend of athletes competing in selective tournaments, Pandoo said that juniors should complete more regularly.

“High-level athletes can be selective on their competitions. But there are also qualification competitions where the athletes have to participate. So, coaches have to take that into account. “But if we are talking about the youth and junior program, we have to compete more regularly so that the athletes can see where they are improving.” However, with the COVID-19 affecting the domestic and international calendar, Pandoo said coaches will need to get innovative to keep the athletes motivated.

“This is a new life that we have now to get used to it. This is where the coaches’ creative instinct has to come in to make this kind of area happen where the athletes know how to push themselves.

“We can have some form of online competition, maybe email competitions between provinces where the athletes can foster that development of competing.” Weightlifting has been marred by the escalating number of doping cases. Asked if the sport can exist without doping, Pandoo said, “Yes. It’s simple, with a good development program, a good education program to the athletes, federation, coaches and those involved with the sport, yes, it is very possible.” China is the powerhouse in the sport and Pandoo believes India too can replicate their neighbors’ success by asking the right questions and taking corrective measures. “They (China) have a very big talent pool. They have huge funding and do extensive research as well.

“Maybe if we (India) can start putting something on a smaller scale, we can develop. India is not a small population. So why are we having, for example, the same athletes in the team for more than 10 years? “Are we doing enough in terms of talent R&D program and talent development? Maybe these are the questions we will have to ask, and start looking at how we can better develop the talent pool for India.”

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