After a memorable show at the recently-concluded World Boxing Championships and World Wrestling Championships, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has backed country’s top athletes to produce their best-ever performance at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The Indian boxers produced their best-ever show at the World Championships with Amit Panghal (52kg) and Manish Kaushik (63kg) winning silver and bronze respectively in Russia. Before this, the country had never won more than one bronze in a single edition of the showpiece. “The Olympics is well on course and we hope that we will give the best ever Olympic performance,” Rijiju was quoted by PTI at the Anju Bobby Sports Academy.

In the Wrestling worlds, Indian grapplers bagged four medals and as many Olympic quota places in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. While Vinesh Phogat was the sole Indian woman wrestler to bag a medal when she won the bronze medal in the 53kg category, Deepak Punia settled for silver in the men’s freestyle 86kg category after not being able to play in the final due to injuries. Bajrang Punia claimed the bronze medal in the 65kg category, while Ravi Kumar also won bronze in the 57kg category.

He expressed hope that the sportspersons from the country will replicate their performances at the world’s biggest sporting fest which will be hosted by Tokyo next year. The minister also announced a government grant of Rs five crore for the academy.

Rijiju said the Olympics was just 10 months away and hence, due to paucity of time it will not be possible to produce extra players and talent. “So, whatever we have the strength available right now, of that we will make best use of it,” the minister said.

Speaking about the exclusion of shooting from the Commonwealth Games in 2022, Rijiju said the Indian Olympics Association president and secretary-general had met him and even recommended boycotting the games if the sport is dropped from the competition.

He said he sought some time and wrote a letter to his British counterpart. “At this point in time it is difficult for me to make further comments.

We will take a final call because this is a political issue,” Rijiju said, adding that he stood by their sentiments but the final decision will be taken at an appropriate time at an appropriate level.

About groupism and infighting in federations, the minister said groupism will prevail in democratically functioning federations but it should not hamper the prospects and future of athletes.

He even warned that the government will take over the federations and constitute an ad hoc committee if groupism affects the future of players.