Gymnast Patra eyes medal for better life

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Mar 2018 10:52:48


INCLUDED in India’s Commonwealth Games gymnastics squad after going to court, Rakesh Patra is desperate for a medal not just to prove his worth but also to become financially strong enough to change his family’s fortunes.
The 26-year-old artistic gymnast was included in India’s CWG squad after he filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court when his name was initially omitted owing to a tussle between the Gymnastics federation and the Indian Olympic Association.Hailing from Odisha, the World Cup finalist has endured a tough journey so far, one that he hopes, will ease up with a good CWG showing.

The many hardships of his life include surviving a fire tragedy that gutted his family’s thatched hut at Hadagadia Sahi in Puri when he was “about five years old”.But despite the challenges, his father Dayanidhi Patra, a primary school teacher in Brahmagiri School about 25 kilometres from Puri, ensured that he got all that was needed to shape into a decent athlete.“He would get about Rs 400 a month and spend more than half of that on me. I have seen them sleep without eating on some days. I still remember the pain,” Patra, a chief petty officer in Indian Navy, told PTI from Mumbai.Despite the hardships, senior Patra ensured that his son pursued his dreams on the insistence of his childhood coach Ashok Mishra and uncle Subhendu Patra, a former gymnast. “My uncle and coach told my father that I have a future in gymnastics. Despite being in academics, my father fully supported me. He ensured everything that’s needed to become a gymnast,” added Patra, who bagged his first national medal at the 2004 Sub-Junior Nationals.

Satwik, Chirag eye history and medalEXPECTATIONS would be high from Indian badminton’s star-studded singles line-up but away from the spotlight, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are aiming to end the country’s men’s doubles medal drought at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in just their debut appearance.At 17 and 20 respectively, Satwik and Chirag form a formidable pair that has proved its mettle in international badminton, often punching above their weight, only to fall short of podium finishes.“It was my father’s dream to see me play at the Commonwealth Games and so when I heard I was selected for the event, it made me so happy. It’s a dream for every sportsperson and I think we are pretty confident that we can win a medal, looking at the way we have been playing in the last six months,” Satwik told PTI.No free rides for officials and family members of athletesWARY of controversy, the Sports ministry will not allow family members of any athlete to travel with the Indian contingent for the Commonwealth Games and will also put a stop to officials “fun rides”.The IOA has forwarded a list of 222 athletes and 106 officials, including 57 coaches, 19 managers and 41 others, for the Gold Coast be held from 4-15 April.Sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is yet to clear the list and it is learnt that ministry is reviewing the lost of 41 other officials.“Ministry will take a decision on the contingent in a couple of days but we have been instructed to strictly review the number of officials while keeping the focus on players. The officials who won’t be able to stay in the Games village or enter the sporting arena. Why should we spend government money on them,” a source in the ministry told PTI Bhasha.
The athletes are getting USD 1500 from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and rest of the expenses like travel etc are being borne by the Sports ministry.

“We are examining the others category which include 41 officials and it is likely to be reduced by half. There have been complaints that officials go on free fun rides but it wont happen this time. We will try to ensure that the player–official ratio is maintained,” said the official .
“Government is paying for airfare and allowances hence we have to make sure that there should be no misuse of money. Our focus is on players and we are expecting the best-ever performance by them in this CWG .” said the official.“Why should family members of the athlete, no matter how big star the player is, will go on government expenses as mentor or manager. If they want them, they can take on their own expenses and I am sure they can afford this,” said the official.

The official also said that this does not mean that government is cutting down support to the athletes as ministry has sanctioned 10 extra coaches for different disciplines as requested by concerned federations.“Some federations have asked us to accommodate coaches as their quota was full so we have sanctioned 10 such extra coaches who are essential for players. It include one in hockey, five in Boxing, one in Squash (female coach) and one in weightlifting. All expenses of these extra officials will be borne by the government,” said the official.There have been many controversies during Glasgow CWG 2014 and more recently at Rio Olympics and this time ministry does not want the repeat of any such issues.In Glasgow the IOA was asked by the sports ministry to provide details of certain delegates after it was reported that they were provided accommodation and paid Rs 1.75 lakh for travel, local transport and food.

During the London Paralympics also the officials outnumbered players and shoddy treatment was meted out to the players and coaches.In Rio Olympic two doctors , one of them was the son of veteran sports administrator, were part of 118-member Indian contingent without having the required qualifications.There have been many instances in the past when family member of athletes have travelled as mentor or team manager without having any qualification for that.