From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.45 :: Nov. 07, 2009

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ATHLETICS

A positive look at Indian athletics

R. RAGU

Olympian Tessa Sanderson spent some time with the Indian athletes.

Javelin exponent Theresa Lone Sanderson, the first coloured woman from Britain to win an Olympic gold medal, was a surprise visitor at the meet. ‘Tessa’ participated in six Olympics from 1976 to ’96, crowned it with an Olympic champion title at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, and was a big achiever in the sport.

Tessa’s career did not end with her exploits on the field. She gave her experience back to the sport via her own academy, the Newham Sports Academy, in London, which in due course became the centre for excellence for very many talented athletes. Indians too had a taste of it when a group went there for an extended training-cum-competition course.

Her India trip is a part of a goodwill tour as a coordinator of the Commonwealth Games slated for 2010 in New Delhi. Earlier, Tessa had little idea of Indian competitors in athletics. P. T. Usha or Shiny Wilson (nee Abraham) did not ring a bell in her mind. But in her new role and after seeing the Indian athletes in London, the English ace seemed to have gained enough knowledge to talk highly of them. “Having seen some of them like distance runner Surendra Singh, Susmita Singha Roy (heptathlete) and throwers (Krishna Poonia and Seema Antil) and hurdler Joseph Abraham, I feel the potential is excellent,” she said. What is more, in her estimation, “if not the 2012 Games, surely in the 2016 edition of the Olympics, Indian athletes should win a medal or two.”

Tessa began to think of Indian athletics positively after Anju Bobby George’s performance in the World meet in Paris in 2003 where she won a bronze. “She came out as an excellent competitor,” Tessa said.

About Indian athletes and the coaches, she said, “very determined and dedicated.” On the secret of her longevity, Tessa’s reply was a lesson to any budding athlete, leave alone a javelin thrower. “I learnt my sport from the grassroot level and I had the right coach as well. My second coach was with me for 17 years. I kept my fitness level high always, chose the right competitions to participate in and ensured all parameters, including diet, were well looked into,” she said.

Having toured Mumbai and later seen the infrastructure coming up in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games, the British ace is convinced that all this would have a salutary effect on Indian sports. As for India being ready for the Games, Tessa was candid, “I can say Delhi will provide a very good Games.”

S.R. Suryanarayan



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