Mon, 26 Oct 2020

New Delhi [India], September 20 (ANI): Namdev Shirgaonkar, president of India Taekwondo, is optimistic about the future of the sport in the country.

Shirgaonkar said that there is "absolutely no doubt" that the sport can achieve the step by step target of first participating in the Olympics and then winning medals.

"We have started with athlete programs and various commissions. The work has begun and a long term development program has been identified. The key factors are going to be transparency, fair judgment and support of the government and WT," Shirgaonkar told ANI.

"Once all these factors are aligned, there is absolutely no doubt that Taekwondo can achieve the step by step target of first participating in the Olympics and subsequently winning medals. There has also been an increase in female athletes and in administrative positions. We are proud to support gender equity. Notably, the first international standard academy will be established with the help of WT as part of our first phase," he added.

Last month, India Taekwondo announced its first-ever online National Taekwondo Poomsae Championship 2020.

The tournament will be virtually held in a first of its kind manner taking all the practicalities and logistics online. The virtual tournament will be held from September 28 to October 4.

Commenting on the same, Shirgaonkar said: "In every unlock plan, the government restarted so much, but did not take into consideration the athletes. The main idea was to motivate and keep them fit. Being a national association member of World Taekwondo, it is our duty to take care of our athletes and make sure that they are up to competing whenever the opportunity arises. The whole point for the athletes is to keep their eye on the prize and focus on their role as an athlete."However, Shirgaonkar believes that athletes being not so tech-savvy is the biggest challenge.

"Athletes will get to compete, participate, and most importantly understand how much harder they have to work to compete at the highest level after the forced break due to Covid-19. Poomsae is like art and an online competition gives them a chance to better their performances and upload the best they have to offer. They will face no logistic problems and can only concentrate on performing. They will find the freedom to just do their best. Challenges are to contact athletes and the fact that athletes are not tech-savvy is the biggest challenge. It has taken a huge backend team to help out athletes. Finding a sponsor during the pandemic has also been a challenge, but we are still all guns blazing for the event," he added.

Indian taekwondo reaped a rich medal haul of 26 medals comprising nine gold, 10 silver, and seven bronze medals at the South Asian Games. Shirgaonkar expressed elation over the achievement and said that "it was by far our best event.""It is definitely the greatest achievement to date. It was by far our best event. Despite a lot of hurdles, athletes participated in the event. This is an example of what happens when athletes are given a chance to compete without any pressure and participate in the open trials and compete at the highest level. Every single athlete that participated won a medal and that speaks volumes for the talent available to Indian Taekwondo and I would like to mention that this is only the first of what we still have to achieve," he said. (ANI)

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