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India's performance was not bad: Dutt

August 29, 2004 16:11 IST
Last Updated: August 29, 2004 17:04 IST

India finished their Olympic campaign with only one silver medal but Sports Minister Sunil Dutt is not disappointed with the performance of Indian sportspersons.

"It (India's performance) was not bad. There has been a definite improvement in their performance. It is not easy to finish fourth, sixth or even seventh in the Olympics," Dutt said after flagging off 'Run for Sports' to mark the National Sports Day on Sunday.

Athens silver medallist shooter Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore also took part in the run.

"Look at Marion Jones of America, one of the richest countries. She finished fifth after availing all the possible facilities. But our sportsmen have limitations in the form of funds and facilities. They will definitely do well in coming days," Dutt said.

The filmstar-turned-politician said the Athens Games had taught that four years were not enough for preparation for such a big event and "sports culture" needed to be inculcated in children right from their early school days.

"We need to prepare our sportspersons from their school days to win a medal," he said.

The government has taken up the task of raising the standard of sports in the country, Dutt assured.

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"We hiked the allowance of Olympic participants to USD 50 from USD 20. We did not want them to deprive of anything. We also sacked the coaches who did not even bother to communicate to the Ministry after the two lifters tested positive for banned substances," he said.

About a media report that SAI officials were aware of the lifters testing positive before they left for Olympics, he said, "IOA is looking into the matter."

Dutt also paid floral tributes to hockey legend Dhyan Chand on the occasion of his 99th birth anniversary.

Rathore also said if India aspired to win more medals in future Olympic Games, it must start preparations now.

"If we start preparations now, we will have chances of winning more medals in the 2012 edition of Olympics," he said.

Calling for more sponsorship for Olympic disciplines, the armyman said, "More and more sponsors should come forward in support of Olympic sports. This would help sportspersons concentrate only on their performance."

Hockey Olympian Harendra Singh, who was also present on the occasion, said Rathore was an inspiration for other sportspersons.

Singh said Indian hockey team's poor show could be attributed to many factors. "They are capable of giving good performance but the forward and defence lacked coordination. They were also not very focused on winning a medal there. It is simply that their performance could not click at Athens."

The Arjuna award winner also felt that the team members should not allow off the field matters from affecting their performance.

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