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From Haryana to Hyderabad and honours in Olympics

M. Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on March 12, 2018

Bronze medallist Gagan Narang at the podium during the medal ceremony following the Men's 10m Air Rifle shooting final at London Olympics.   -  PTI

Saina Nehwal kisses her bronze medal of the badminton women's singles atthe London Olympics 2012.   -  PTI

What is common to Haryana, Hyderabad and Olympics, especially the ongoing London games?

Two of the three Indians who did the country proud by winning medals at London 2012, have traversed this journey. Yes, you are right, both Saina Nehwal, the super shuttler and Gagan Narang, the ace shooter, belong to Haryana, but have made Hyderabad their home.

There is also the reverse route to glory. Karnam Malleswari the lone Indian woman weight lifter to win an Olympic medal (Sydney 2000), hails from Andhra Pradesh, but has settled down in Haryana as she works in the Food Corporation of India there and has been honoured by that State.

There is something ticking in these two places for sports to flourish. If you go by the numbers, Haryana has contributed 18 top-notch participants to the Indian contingent. On the other hand, Hyderabad has some of the biggest names and prospects — led by the virtual Indian challenge in badminton – Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa and Parupalli Kashyap --Sania Mirza and Vishnuvardhan Reddy (tennis) and Gagan Narang (shooting).

Hyderabad, for instance, has become a badminton hub, thanks to excellent facilities and coaching from stalwarts such as Dronacharya S.M. Arif, late Mir Mahboob Ali, Goverdhan Reddy, Bhaskar Babu and the former All England champion Pullela Gopichand. The State Government’s patronage of sports also plays an important part. Saina’s father works at the Directorate of Oilseeds Research, while Gagan Narang’s father was in the Indian Airlines, which brought them to Hyderabad.

Former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu gave a big push to sports by creating infrastructure for National Games, Afro-Asian games which were held early in the new millennium. Hyderabad could boast of international-grade hockey turf, athletics track, shooting range and indoor sports complex at Gachibowli.

During his regime, sportsmen were also honoured with cash awards and some like Gopichand were given land to develop a training academy. The soft-spoken and dedicated Gopichand, toiled to raise funds to set up the Academy. He also found financial support from industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad for the venture. The result of the efforts is manifest in a rich crop of youngsters coming out to represent the country.

The present Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy is himself an erstwhile cricketer. He has shown keen interest in encouraging sports. His Government has upped the budget to Rs 225 crore from just Rs 20 crore last year. He also plans to make sports compulsory in all schools.

In the coming days, Haryana will be in the limelight. India’s medal hopes depend heavily on its boxers and wrestlers, their prowess flowing perhaps from their martial origins. The State Government’s generous cash reward programme and recognition serve as booster doses, especially in a country where sports other than cricket have suffered from step-motherly treatment for decades.

somasekhar.m@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 06, 2012

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