Time Professionals Ran Indian Sport: Shooter Ronjan Sodhi

By Abhishek Roy

New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) India's top shooter Ronjan Sodhi wants national sports federations (NSFs) to take a cue from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in aggressively marketing their sports and running them professionally.

Sodhi, who won individual gold and team bronze in double trap at the Guangzhou Asian Games, feels that it is time professionals took over the sports federations.

"Sadly, our sports federations are not being run in a professional way. It is time the sports federations learned from the BCCI how to market the game and generate revenue," Sodhi told IANS in an interview.

The World No.3 from Ferozepur town in Punjab said the government is doing its best to support Olympic sports but wondered how long sports could survive without corporate sponsorship.

"I can proudly say that I am a product of government support. Despite all the negatives, it is due to government support that Olympic sports are surviving in India. It is good to see that some corporates like the Mittals and Sahara are now coming forward to help sportspersons, but if the federations are not proactive in getting sponsors, I doubt if Olympic sports can survive in India," he said.

After the stupendous performance in the Asian Games, Sodhi has now set his sights on the 2012 London Olympics.

"I want to take one step at a time. Right now my aim is to qualify for the London Olympics and then I will see how things pan out. It was painful to miss the Beijing Games as world No.3. But this time I know the pressure of expectations will be high one me," he said.

Asked if missing the Beijing Olympics still rankles, Sodhi said: "It feels bad. I was the World No.3 and despite being a top shooter I couldn't take part in the Olympics. But that has made me stronger."

With less than two years to go for the Olympics, Sodhi said consistency will be the key to win an Olympic medal.

"I don't want to try too many things. I want to be consistent with my performance for the next 12 months. I think consistency will be key for me to win a medal at the London Olympics," he said.

Sodhi knows that in London a lot will be expected of shooters, after Abhinav Bindra's historic gold in Beijing and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's silver at the 2004 Athens Games.

"Shooters have done extremely well in the last two years. Today we have a great bench strength and I feel 15 shooters can qualify for the London Olympics. But shooting is a sport where luck matters a lot," he said.

Sodhi, however, agreed that Indian shooters failed to shoot to their potential at the Asian Games after their excellent showing at the Commonwealth Games a month earlier.

"I agree, but it is unfair to compare shooting with sports like tennis or boxing. Shooters don't shoot in competitions every week whereas top tennis players play tournaments every week. Shooters take part in four or six or international meets in a year. Our shooters gave their best at the Commonwealth Games since it was the first major international events held in India after a long time.

"And the Asian Games was held in a fortnight's time. So it is was impossible for shooters to peak twice within a couple of weeks. In fact, the level of competition at the Asian Games was much tougher than in the Commonwealth Games," he said.



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