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YAI fears losing govt. patronage

Source: PTI
August 24, 2004 23:18 IST
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The Yachting Association of India is apprehensive that the sport will "suffer" in the country following the pathetic performance of the sailing duo of Malav Shroff and Sumeet Patel at the Athens Olympics.

Already miffed at being overruled by the Indian Olympic Association's choice of the 49er (Double-handed Dinghy Open) class for an Olympics entry, the YAI feels the result could have been better if the IOA had heeded its advice in the choice of event for accepting a wild card.

"We have more competent sailors in Star, Laser and 470 class. We had even told the IOA about our preference for these events. But the IOA opted for the 49er regatta," YAI secretary Amarjit Singh Bajwa said in Delhi on Tuesday.

Before the Games, the International Sailing Federation had written to the IOA that it wished to grant a wild card to India for the 49er after none of the Indian sailors qualified for any of the Olympics events from the World championships.

On being informed about this, Bajwa wrote to the IOA saying: "Though it is an honour for YAI to be extended an opportunity to participate in a sailing event in Olympics 2004, it is regretted that our competitors are not yet at the requisite experience and proficiency in this class.

"It is proposed that entry for the 49er class event of Olympics 2004 be declined."

Bajwa's remarks came in the wake of US-based Shroff and Patel's extended dismal run. The duo continue to bring up the rear among the 19-strong fleet in most of the races.

The Indians have been all at sea throughout the event, and collected a huge 180 net penalties after 12 races, heading for an almost certain wooden spoon finish.

Bajwa said seasoned campaigners Farokh Tarapore and Vikas Kapila in 470, and Nitin Mongia and R Mahesh in Star as also Rajesh Chowdhury in Laser had put up a better performance in the qualifiers compared to Shroff and Patel.

"While I have nothing against Shroff and  Patel, I never expected better results from them as 49er is a new event, and these asymmetrical boats aren't available in India. Moreover, handling these boats requires a great deal of skill and expertise," he said.

"I'm not saying that we would have ended up with medals if we had got wild cards in the other classes, because you cannot be so optimistic with wild card entries. But performance-wise, they were better."

Bajwa feared that after the pair's poor show, sailing could again lose government patronage as it did after a medalless show in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.

"Sailing got relegated from priority list to general list of the government. I only hope that such a woe does not befall us again," he said.

The YAI official said after four years of hard work, India again did well in the discipline at the Busan Asian Games two years ago, finishing with three medals.

Earlier this year, the country ended up with the maximum number of medals among 14 countries in the Asian Sailing championship in Mumbai.

"But now, all our efforts seem to have gone down the drain. We have to start afresh," Bajwa added.

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