Olympic bronze medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt feels Indian coaches live in the past and lack the hunger to learn new techniques, necessitating the involvement of foreign coaches for the benefit of grapplers.
India won its maiden Olympic wrestling medal in the 1952 Helsinki Games through KD Jadhav. Decades later, Sushil Kumar won the country’s its next Olympic medal on the mat, bagging a bronze in the 2008 Beijing Games.
“Indian wrestling started doing well globally after the foreign coaches came. In 2003, for the first time we got a Georgian coach, it was after that we won at the Olympics, started winning World Championships and medals in the Asian Games also increased,” Dutt said.
Yogeshwar won a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
“The foreign coaches are willing to learn and work with athletes. But Indian coaches lack that hunger to learn. They still live in the past and continue to train with the old systems. Therefore it is essential to have foreign coaches in wrestling because one has to keep changing the game,” he said.
Commonwealth gold medallist Geeta Phogat agreed with fellow wrestler Dutt and added that foreign coaches provide the skills and expertise unknown to Indian grapplers.
“Yes, Indian wrestling has improved since foreign coaches came in because the skills and techniques they have is new to us,” Geeta said.
She also emphasised the role a coach plays in an athlete’s success story.
“The coaches boosts our confidence when we lose. They remind us that we have done it once before and we can do it again. We need to trust our coaches. Unless we trust them we can’t get the result,” she said.
Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, who was also part of a panel discussion here today, shared his experience and said he constantly questioned his coach.
“My coach was the only person in the world that I hated. He made me cry by saying all the things that I didn’t want to hear. But it was an important and integral part of my development.
“I barely trusted myself so it was difficult for me to trust anyone else. I had an unconventional relationship with my coaches. I questioned them and until I was convinced I didn’t do what they were asking of me,” Bindra said.
Former tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi said selecting a coach is a “personal choice”.
“Look at Nadal, he had the same coach since he was seven-year-old and his uncle took him to where he is today.
“My dad taught me the foundation of the game but once you get to a different stage you want to learn more and more from different physios, different coaches,” Bhupathi said.
Meanwhile Balbir Singh senior, who himself took up the job of the chief coach and guided the Indian hockey team to its lone World Cup victory, said as coach he felt it was his duty to praise all players.
“I never discourage any player and even if the player had a disappointing performance I would tell him you’ll do better next time and it worked — it was the only time India won the World Cup,” he said.
(With PTI Inputs)