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World champions Anand, Sethi to mentor Indian athletes for Rio Olympics

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: January 14, 2015 09:25 IST
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(From left to right) Viswanathan Anand, Sarita Devi, Jitu Rai and Geet Sethi during the Olympic Gold Quest event in Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

Sporting legends Viswanathan Anand and Geet Sethi will be a key part of some top Indian athletes' training and preparation for the Rio Olympic Games next year.

Five-time chess World champion Anand and nine-time World billiards champion Sethi will mentor the high-profile athletes signed up by Olympic Gold Quest, which is looking to improve India's showing from the last Games in London, where they won six medals.

"We both tried to speak about how we felt at big moments, how our thoughts were leading up to for few months, what are the issues we faced, in focusing and things like that. It was more of a conversation; it was basically exchange of ideas.

"We will try to expand it going forward, seeing how useful it feels to them. For the moment today, it was just sharing of experience," Anand said in Mumbai on Tuesday, after interacting with shooter Jitu Rai and boxer Sarita Devi, both of whom won medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year.

(From left to right) Viswanathan Anand, Sarita Devi, Jitu Rai and Geet Sethi during the Olympic Gold Quest interaction. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

Four of India's six medallists were trained by OGQ. They are now planning to double the count in Rio and leaving no stone unturned towards achieving the same.

"In a very structured format we are going to spend time with the athletes. It is 18 months for the Olympics and what we want to do is to individually spend time with the athletes and talk to them about the pitfalls which one can see, how to overcome them and, more importantly, to remain focussed for the next 18 months. That is what we really we are focussed on now," Sethi pointed out.

Champion shooter Rai won the gold medal at the Commonwealth and Asian Games in the 50m free pistol event and has already secured the quota place in the event for the Rio Games. He revealed that one big part of his preparation for the Olympics would be acclimatising to the conditions by travelling to Rio de Janeiro in August, exactly a year before the Games.

(From left to right) Sarita Devi, Jitu Rai and Geet Sethi during the Olympic Gold Quest event in Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

"I will be going to Rio around August 15-16, which is exactly one year before the Olympics for training-cum-competition. This will help me to get a feel of the Olympic range and the weather conditions we will encounter during that time; so it will definitely help me prepare for the Rio Games," Rai said.

Sarita, who is serving a one-year ban for rejecting her bronze medal at the Asian Games last year, said she is working on her fitness and hopes to be in best shape by the time her ban ends in October.

"I underwent a surgery recently on my wrist and soon I will start my training. My entire focus is to win the gold medal at the Olympics and I will give everything to achieve my dream. I want to be the fittest boxer when I take the ring in October. I am sure if I am fit and focussed then nothing can come in the way of winning the gold medal," she said.

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