Swimming national coach S Pradeep Kumar, who will receive the Dronacharya Award today, said that India needs better facilities and lot more support to get anywhere near the best. Kumar added that at this moment India’s performance should be compared with the Asian timings rather than the World ones.
At Rio Olympics, S Pradeep Kumar accompanied Sajan Prakash (men's 200m butterfly) and Shivani Kataria (women's 200m freestyle) hoping for a creditable performance from the duo. Sajan Prakash finished 28th overall in the heats with a timing 1:59.37, while 18-year-old Shivani Kataria finished 41st overall with a timing of 2:09:30. Although they were nowhere near the medals, national coach S Pradeep Kumar believes that India can get there one day with better facilities and lot more support.
"Indian swimmers are not even anywhere near the 'A' qualifying mark for the Olympics. We are not up to that standard yet. That requires a lot of other things. To come to that level, you need better facilities, assistance from all corners, a lot more funding and a lot more support," Kumar told DNA from Bengaluru.
"If you have to compare our swimmers with those from the countries that make the semifinals and finals of Olympics, you have to also compare all the facilities and support that those swimmers receive. We are nowhere near any of them," Kumar said. "At the level, India is at the moment, you could compare with the Asian standards and how many swimmers from Asia qualify for the semifinals and finals.
"You look at the women's finals. Hardly women from Asia
Reflecting on his Dronacharya Award, Kumar said that it is a recognition for the hard work of many people and not just his.
"It is a time to rejoice in the sense that whatever I have done being is recognised. I am happy about it. More than what I have done, it is a recognition for the Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre (in Bengaluru, where he has been coaching for about three decades) is recognised, the swimmers' and their parents' hard work. It is not just my effort,” Kumar told DNA.