NEW DELHI, January 21: 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 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 the Paris Olympics,” Pandoo said.
The 46-year-old said his main focus will be towards developing youth and junior programmes.
“My clear roadmap that has been put to me by SAI will be to get involved in youth and junior development programmes.”
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 programmes and how we can improve on that.”
He will look after the coaching education programme 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 coaching education. This is my next pillar. I will be very strongly leading that coaching education programme.”
Talking about the trend of athletes competing in selective tournaments, Pandoo said the juniors should compete more regularly.
“High level athletes can be selective in 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 programme, 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 in order to keep the athletes motivated.
“This is actually a new life that we have now to get used to. This is where the coaches’ creative instincts have to come in to make these kinds of areas 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 an escalating number of doping cases. Asked if the sport can exist without doping, Pandoo said, “Yes. It’s simple, with a good development programme, a good education programme 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 neighbours’ 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 programme 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.” (PTI)