Gill promises help in preparing athletes for London Olympics

Friday, December 3, 2010

NEW DELHI - Delighted at the encouraging performance of the Indian athletes in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, sports minister M.S. Gill Friday promised the athletes continued support till the 2012 London Olympics.

The sports ministry shelled out a whopping Rs.678 crore for the athletes’ preparations for the Commonwealth Games in October here, where India cornered 101 medals, including 38 gold, to finish second in the medals tally for the first time.

A month later, Indian athletes registered their best performance in the Asian Games too with 13 gold.

“I took the office on April 5, 2008, and soon after I went to the prime minister and asked for more money for the athletes’ coaching. At that time, the budget was Rs.40 crore or even less. By mid-July and August, the government increased this to Rs.678 crore. Twenty crore were spent on the foreign coaches. The government made a long jump in their support and I want to thank it and the Sports Authority of India (SAI),” Gill said at a function organised by the industry lobby FICCI.

“We carried the same scale to the Asian Games, carrying the same coaches and same level of training and our athletes responded by doing exceptionally well. We now can’t let the support again dip to Rs,40 crore, and I would be going to the cabinet and the prime minister to extend the same support or even more for the London Olympics, which is just a year and half away.”

Gill was particularly pleased with the country’s performance in the Asian Games athletics event, where India notched up five gold medals.

“The Indian athletes did exceptionally well in the Commonwealth Games and followed up their performance in the Asian Games. I am very happy with the performance in athletics in the Asian Games as it is the event I focus on,” he said.

“Ashwini Chidananda and Joseph Abraham did a great job by winning gold in the 400m hurdles, it’s one hell of a race. Again in the 400m women’s relay we won the gold and it is a great achievement. Mandeep Kaur, who is from my village, held her own in a great finish. We won a medal even in gymnastics, where we stand nowhere currently, and the win has certainly opened the door for better sports development.”

Filed under: Olympic Games

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