Kapil Dev – The New Indian Express

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Through PTI

MUMBAI: Legendary Kapil Dev believes cricket has reached “new heights” in India as infrastructure has improved and the provision of better facilities will help sports like hockey win more medals at the Olympics.

“We as a country have to provide the infrastructure first. When we have them, the kids are free to choose whatever sport they want,” Kapil said.

“Cricket has reached new heights thanks to improved facilities. However, if we do the same in other sports, such as adding 200 extra artificial turfs, India will win more Olympic medals in ice hockey than any other country,” he added.

The world champion captain spoke at an ABP News session titled “We Are The Champions: Patience, Perseverance, Practice” alongside former Indian long jumper Anju Bobby George, ex-hockey captain Zafar Iqbal and the 18-time Grand Slam World Champion Leander Paes.

Speaking of the change in mentality in promoting the sport, he said: “The most important thing I want to say is that over the last 40 years I’ve seen that parents today are bringing their children down to earth and saying, ‘Shut them up a ‘player’.”

“In our time, parents don’t have time to bring their children down to earth. Today they come to us and ask if they can play IPL or if they can play for India?” On the lack of scientific support for athletics, Anju said, “If parents are not willing to send their children, how can we support them. So it should come from the parents first, and then we have to look at this kid scientifically.

“First there is a coach’s eye so we can see and determine whether they are talented or not. Then we have to test them scientifically and then we have to determine what discipline they are good enough for.”

The 2003 World Championships medalist expects more medals from female athletes at the upcoming Olympics.

“My academy, Anju Bobby Sports, sponsors 16 children including Shaili Singh who is currently ranked second in the world at junior level.

“So in 2024 or 2028 I expect one of my students to be on the podium. I’m still chasing my dream.”

Olympic medalist Paes said: “I think most people assume that winning Olympic medals is about physical fitness. I think most people believe that winning World Cups is about technique.

“The majority of people, I suppose, think that winning the world championship is all about technique. But it is the difference between the two temples that decides victory or defeat.”

“Champions have a natural ability to think quickly. My win-loss record shows I’ve lost 74.1 percent of the games I’ve ever played.”

Iqbal, a member of India’s Olympic gold-winning ice hockey team, said the current team, after failing to perform well for three decades, has marked India’s resurgence in the sport.

“I would say we did tremendously well in hockey, especially when you look at 75 at the start of the 1948 London Olympics.

“Of course, ice hockey was also at the top of the world. But when it comes to hockey, there’s no doubt that we haven’t been able to do much in the last thirty years.

“But this team is the best team in the last 30-40 years and it showed the world that India is coming back, especially in hockey. There is an overall increase in people’s participation in sport.”

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