BFI mulls inviting foreign boxers over for Olympic training to save Indian pugilists from excess travel
Athletes heading off to foreign shores to prepare themselves for Olympics is common in India. But boxing is set to buck the trend in the run-up to the qualifiers for next year's Tokyo Games to prevent any 'travel-related burnouts'.
New Delhi: Athletes heading off to foreign shores to prepare themselves for Olympics is common in India. But boxing is set to buck the trend in the run-up to the qualifiers for next year's Tokyo Games to prevent any "travel-related burnouts".
Instead of Indians taking the flight to sought-after destinations in Europe or Americas for training, plans are afoot to invite boxers from these regions for joint training programmes on Indian soil in the first half of December.
"The idea is to ensure that our boxers don't get burnt out by too much travelling. We are already travelling quite a lot for tournaments this season and it would be a good idea to train at home before the Olympic qualifiers in January because I believe December is a really good time to be in India," Indian boxing's High Performance Director Santiago Nieva told PTI.
"The weather is generally good and considering that Europe is too cold at that time of the year, we are expecting a positive reply from the countries we intend to invite. We would also be inviting teams from North Africa," he revealed.
The Indian boxers, both men and women, have endured a busy 2019 so far and have been quite literally living out of the suitcase.
They were in action in the first three months, competing in European calendar openers in Bulgaria and Finland before fighting it out at the Asian Championships in April.
This was followed by trials for the tournaments in Kazakhstan, Philippines and Russia in July-August. September brings with it the world championships in Russia, for both men and women, and subsequently the National Championships in October.
"So, you see, if we travel too much, it could lead to exhaustion which is not good before the Olympic qualifiers. There has to be enough time for rest and recovery to get the best out of them in top competitions," Nieva explained.
"We have good facilities in the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) in Bellary. We would be holding a camp there because I believe facilities in Patiala (where the national camp is based right now) can be made slightly better. We are working towards it and hopefully they would improve. The discussions have already taken place on this," he added.
The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) tied up with IIS, which has Olympic gold-medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra and former cricket captain Sourav Ganguly on its advisory board, a few weeks ago.
Boxing has endured a topsy-turvy year globally with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripping the sport's world governing body of the right to conduct the sport in the Tokyo Games.
As a result, the September world championships lost the Olympic qualifier status and the first qualifying event for Tokyo will now be held in January.
Asked if India is on track given the shake-up, Nieva said "We are on track. In fact, I would say we are better-placed compared to where we were a couple of years ago. The results this year have been very encouraging"
"But of course, there is always scope for improvement and we will continue to strive for that," he added.
Tirop was found dead at her home in Iten in western Kenya, a town renowned as a training base for distance runners. Kenyan media reported she was found with stab wounds in her abdomen.
She is currently ranked 50th in the world and is the top-ranked fencer from India.
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