Many renowned Indian sports personalities were present in a webinar organised by the Department of Sports and Youth Services, Odisha.

On the occasion of International Olympic Day celebrations, sporting legends Leander Paes, Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George, Floris Bovelander were joined by the president of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, President and CEO of Hockey India Elena Norman to engage in an impactful webinar discussion on the momentum towards post COVID-19 Olympics.

The webinar organised by the Department of Sports and Youth Services, Odisha in association with Naval Tata Hockey Academy. IOA president expressed, “It is important, more so now, than ever to stay active, stay healthy both mentally and physically.”

He further added, “The next one year is going to be critical and the focus will be on elite athletes. While we have 78 athletes who have already qualified, I am confident the numbers will go up to about 125 athletes once international competitions and qualifying meet resume around the globe. The preparations will be a joint effort by the Government of India, IOA, NSFs and I feel this is a situation where best needs to be taken out of the worst.”

“Few sports like hockey, weight-lifting and athletics have already started and shooting too will begin sometime in mid-July. I am in touch with all the NSFs, as well as some athletes and I, am optimistic we are on track for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.”

Olympic Champion Abhinav Bindra insisted that a holistic approach is what will make the difference. He remarked, “Olympics is once in 4 years, and athletes have only one shot at glory, and it’s important to have a holistic approach, use science, use medicine, use technology and engineering in training and that will make a difference.”

Underlining the importance of tapping talent in the rural belt, seven-time Olympian and multiple grand slam winner Leader Paes said, “I would like to thank Odisha government for going deeper into the rural areas in the state to find talent. Most of India’s talent is untouched, and it is great that Odisha has set an example of creating excellence at the grass-root level.”

“This is very important. More global events are coming to Odisha and while the state has done fabulously in hosting the Men’s World Cup in 2018 among other events, the programs rolled out to develop grass root sports in association with corporates is commendable. I always believe when great minds come together, great results can be achieved.”

Highlighting India’s resurgence in hockey, Bovelander said, “What Hockey India has done with the sport in India over the last ten years is immense and it has got people back in the sport. Dr Batra started Hockey India League and that was a major effort that created popularity. You need to create heroes in the sport to inspire the youth and I feel Indian hockey is on the right path.”

The second session of the webinar was a hockey-specific session where Bovelander was joined by Indian Men’s Hockey Team Chief Coach Graham Reid, ace goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and drag-flick specialist Harmanpreet Singh. Dilip Tirkey and Monika from the Indian Women’s Hockey Team too were part of the second session as well which touched upon the technicalities involved in penalty corner attack, defence, different variations and innate qualities of a good drag-flick specialist.