Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday acknowledged that while creating champions isn’t an overnight process, India must ensure that it’s taken seriously at global sporting events, especially at the Olympics.
Speaking at the 9th Global Sports Summit – TURF 2019 in New Delhi, Rijiju said, “We can’t create champions overnight as it takes years and need to ensure that there is an entire infrastructure from training to society support in place.”
While he has positive hopes from Indian athletes participating at the next year’s Tokyo Olympics, Rijiju feels the country can have real hopes from Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. “If we can’t prepare for next 8 years then we have to blame ourselves in terms of making policy, setting directions, channelizing resources. We must ensure that India is no more a country which is not taken seriously in Olympics. I will definitely not be satisfied as a sports minister of the country if we don’t win medals,” he said.
He continued, “Sports is a glamour as well as big opportunity to do business. There are unlimited opportunities in India, and we must be able to unleash the talent we have.”
He also stressed the importance of doing well at other international sporting events as well. “As a young nation, we can’t afford to lag behind in the international level of competition — be it the Olympics, Asian Games or any of the world championships. We are a young nation that’s why we have to set an ambitious target. In the meeting with IOA (national Olympic body) and NSFs (sports federations), I had given them a very ambitious target. It’s not easy but not impossible either. We are rising. In the last six months, our ranking and performance has increased. Most of the results I’ve calculated are the best-ever,” he said.