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Sport - Olympic Games Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Ashish looking forward to London Olympics

M.R. Praveen Chandran

— Photo: S. Mahinsha

Ashish Kumar.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For ages Indian gymnastics wallowed in mediocrity and participation in international meet was more in keeping with the Olympic spirit. But commonwealth and Asian Games last year saw 19-year-old Ashish Kumar win medals which were unprecedented. It was a dénouement that redefined the way Indian gymnasts looked at sports dominated by the Chinese and the Koreans. Two months after winning the medals, Ashish Kumar was candid in saying that Indians dared to dream.

“We were not found wanting in hard work. But what we lack is exposure and equipments. Give us both and we will win medals again at international events,” Ashish said.

Life hasn't changed a wee bit for the down-to-earth Ashish who is a section officer in the Railways based in Allahabad. “I am still the same. It is good to see that people recognise you and I am proud of what I have achieved,” he said.

Ashish Kumar won the silver medal in vault and bronze in floor exercises in the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi. “I prepared well for Commonwealth Games. The long camp and training under the Russian coach was of immense help,” he said.

But those who thought his medals in Commonwealth Games were a fluke were in for a surprise as Ashish won the bronze medal in floor exercise in the Guanzhou Asian Games. “To be honest I wasn't expecting any medal. I hardly had any training when I went to China. The field was strong. But I didn't feel any pressure and was able to give my best shot, “he said of his Asian Games performance.

Foreign coaches

After training with a foreign coach (Vladimir Chertkov) for a year, Ashish is convinced that more foreign coaches would do a world of good for gymnastics in India. “We need more foreign coaches and they should be posted in all centres throughout the country where there is gymnastics coaching. Their (foreign coaches) planning, workouts and technical inputs are much better. By hiring more coaches we will be able to produce good gymnasts and the overall standard will improve,” he said.

As a youngster, Ashish was hyperactive and was fond of jumping and climbing trees. It was his elder brother Ravi Kumar who saw a streak of sportsman in Ashish.

He took Ashish to the National Institute of Sports which was near to their house in Allahabad. “The coach D.K. Rathore took me in and since then I have been training there. At times I wanted to quit but it was my mother who encouraged me,” the youngster said.

After winning medals in Commonwealth and Asian Games, Ashish is hoping to do well in London Olympics. “I would like to compete in London Olympics. I am hoping to do well in the World championship this year and get a selection for Olympics,” he said.

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