Top Indian athletes train in South Africa

By Fakir Hassen, IANS,

Durban : Ten top Indian athletes are undergoing an intensive four-month training in preparation for the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

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The athletes, all gold medallists at various international events in the past two years, are also being groomed for the 2012 London Olympics by Elite Athlete Performance (EAP).

EAP Director Heath Matthews said the success of Indian gold medalist rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra at the Beijing Olympics last year had prompted the Mittal Champions Trust to sponsor the training for the athletes.

“(The Trust) has confidence in our work since we have in the past conditioned Bindra. We have also had India’s number one squash player, Joshna Chinnappa, and two top Indian boxers Akhil and Jitendra Kumar train with us,” Matthews said.

“We combine sports science, sports medicine and coaching to develop world class athletes,” Matthews added.

A spokesman for the group of athletes who hail from all over India, Sinimole Paulose of Kerala, said the training programme was a tough one, but the large Indian population in Durban had made them feel very much at home.

“We are well taken care of and with the ten of us living like a family, there has not been a chance yet to miss home.”

Matthews said he hoped the presence of the Indian athletes would prove to the South African Indian community that they too could succeed in the international sporting arena.

Although many South African Indians participate in athletic events, there has not yet been a national or international winner from the community in this field.