SJAM Awards: Sports in Maharashtra is struggling, says Experts

Oct 11, 2018, 08:00 IST | Subodh Mayure

Boxing Federation of India Secretary General, Jay Kowli made this point during a panel discussion organised by the Sports Journalists' Association of Mumbai at the Mumbai Press Club on Wednesday

SJAM Awards: Sports in Maharashtra is struggling, says Experts
Former India shooter Deepali Deshpande (left), AFI chief Adille Sumariwalla, former wrestler Kaka Pawar and Boxing Federation of India's secretary general Jay Kowli during a panel discussion at the Mumbai Press Club yesterday.

Though India and China are competing with each other very closely in terms of population, India is nowhere near its neighbour where sports is concerned. Boxing Federation of India Secretary General, Jay Kowli made this point during a panel discussion organised by the Sports Journalists' Association of Mumbai at the Mumbai Press Club on Wednesday as a prelude to SJAM's annual awards function to be held at the Cricket Club of India today.

India-China comparison
"We must learn from China. India got independence in 1947, while China got it in 1949. After independence, India participated in the 1948 London Olympics as an independent nation, while China did not participate till Los Angeles 1984, where they won 32 medals [including 15 gold] and finished fourth in the medals tally," Kowli said.

India, on the other hand, returned empty-handed from the 1984 Games and won just two medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where China finished third, winning 70 medals (26 gold). "That's the difference in thinking between India and China. They did not go to the jungles to find the fastest sprinter or any other athlete. They simply worked on their population," added Kowli, a boxer and former international referee.

The situation at the state level isn't too impressive either, felt President of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) Adille Sumariwalla, who is also vice-president of the Maharashtra Olympics Association.

'Sad situation'
"I really feel sad. There's nothing happening in sports development [in Maharashtra]. Nobody is interested," said the 11-time national champion sprinter. Former Olympic shooter and coach Deepali Deshpande echoed his sentiments: "The Maharashtra Rifle Association has been doing whatever they can for the sport and that's why we've seen a few shooters emerge from the state but things at the government level are very sad."

Former wrestler Kaka Pawar, who coached grappler Rahul Aware to win gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April, said state wrestlers are struggling too. "Though there is a north India lobby [at the Wrestling Federation of India] against our wrestlers, we are lagging behind anyway," said Pawar.

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