A ‘tadka’ corner has been arranged on demand, better quality food is available in abundance, and there is pleasant environment for training: life has become easy for wrestlers at SAI centre in Sonepat.
The wrestlers till recently were forced to train inside a hall, where the temperature would rise to 39 degrees due to ineffective air-conditioners, exposing the athletes to injury and health risks.
This was because the regular training hall was under renovation and the wrestlers were practising at the multipurpose hall, whose 12.5 metre height rendered the air-conditioners ineffective.
Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General Sandeep Pradhan himself visited the centre after PTI highlighted the wrestlers’ plight in a report. The DG directed the relevant people to make all necessary arrangements.
Immediately, the wrestlers were shifted to the Sakshi Malik Hall, which was being used for strength and conditioning and sports science purpose.
“DG sir listened to our problems and the issue was resolved in a matter of few hours. The wrestlers and coaches now train in good space,” said a coach.
“The food quality is much better now and everything has been made available to us. A new juice machine has been arranged and we get everything on time and even beyond the eating hours,” the coach added.
“Now the mess manager, a dietician and a coach is always present when food is served. Supervision is there all the time,” said another coach.
A dash of seasoning, but is it good?
On the wrestlers’ demand, a ‘tadka corner’ has been arranged at the mess, where desi ghee is available for a dash of seasoning (addition of herbs and spice to food).
But is the seasoning with desi ghee recommended for athletes?
A physical trainer attached with the camp said, “When ghee is boiled at 100 degrees, it turns into trans fat. When consumed, it adds fat to the body which may not be good for athletes. But hormonal secretion is required to satisfy the mind and that happens when you eat the food of your choice.”
“The wrestlers already train hard, so they can manage a bit of fat entering their bodies.”
A wrestler said, “We have to maintain weight so when a competition nears we remove everything that is unnecessary on our plates.”
Progress on renovation
Lalita Sharma, the executive director of the centre, said the renovation work is likely to finish in a week’s time.
“The renovation work at the Sushil Kumar-Yogeshwar Dutt Hall will be complete soon. The wrestlers are already training at Sakshi Malik Hall, they can continue using that,” Lalita, who herself was a national level badminton player, said.
“We have about 50 wrestlers attached with National Centre of Excellence, so both the halls can be used simultaneously.”
New infrastructure at SAI centre
Lalita also informed that by the end of this year they will have a High Performance Lab functional for the sport of archery. It will cost around Rs 5 crore.
“We will have an indoor range where video analysis of the archers’ performance could be done. It will help them get better. The Olympic training centres in USA, Switzerland and Korea, all have such ranges. SAI’s endeavour is to provide best infrastructure to the athletes,” she said.
“Also, new synthetic hockey turf has been laid for players and soon it will be possible to have a camp for junior national players at our centre.
“We are also developing a 500-capacity dining hall.”