New Delhi : Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken has told Karan Thapar that India will be able to win 25 medals in the 2020 Olympics. Out of this, at least 5 to 10 gold medals are expected. The Minister is however silent on the medals tally in the 2016 Olympics.
Following the minister’s ‘Mission Twenty-Five 20’ announcement, there were hectic parleys on how to make this achievable. Reliable sources say that Laloo Prasad Yadav, who turned around Railways (a claim refuted by Mamta Banerjee), has been chosen to head the panel on Mission Twenty-Five 20. “Since Laloo now has no effective Central and state role, he has been chosen for this job to promote sports in the country,” a Sports ministry official told Tenali Rama. Laloo was excited about the offer. He told journalists that “Hum Nitish ko dikhayenge ki Bihar sports me kisi se Kom nahi.” [We will show Nitish Kumar that Bihar is second to none in sports] .
It is also understood that Sports Ministry made ‘strategic’ plans before the minister made the announcement. “We are closely watching the Medals Table,” said one official familiar with the development.
“Hum ne Hussein Bolt ko chithi likhi hai aur yeh poocha ki kab hum training ke liye Baghdad aa sakte hein. Humhe kushi hai ki woh Saddam Hussein ke third cousin ke bete hain.” [We have written a letter to Hussein Bolt asking him when we can come to Baghdad for training. We are happy that he is Saddam Hussein’s third cousin’s son.]
The plan also is to send 54 delegations to all the 54 countries that are ahead of India in the medals tally. According to medals obtained by each country, the delegates will be sent. “For example, we will send 104 delegates to United States of America, which has won 104 medals. Each delegate will talk to the medallist to understand their medal plan,” explained an official.
The delegate visit is expected to take two years to complete. “We are also trying to put diplomatic pressure on Ethiopia to lend us some medallist sportspersons for exchange of wheat and rice,” the official added. Ethiopia has won 3 gold medals in a total of 7 medals.
After the delegate visits, a blueprint will be prepared in two years’ time. Then preparations are expected to start around 2016 when next Olympics will be held. Asked if the government has any specific plans in mind for the 2016 Olympics, the official said, “We will completely revamp the hockey team. In future, we will have equal number of players from both Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation.”
(Report contributed by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy from Chennai)