While Indians in little-known sports such as fencing and equestrianism made their Olympic debuts, another little-known sport missed the “we made it” moment in Tokyo.
The Jordanian capital, Amman, which last year held its final Asian qualifiers every four years, has imposed a 14-day quarantine rule for Indians due to a surge in Covid-19 cases here in April-May. But the Indian Olympic Committee (IOA) held trials 12 days before the competition.
Whether it was IOA’s ignorance or a lack of communication from host Jordan remained unclear, but four Indian taekwondo athletes missed out on booking tickets for the Olympics.
“It’s not fair to the athletes. People might think it’s just ‘representation’, but having people from our small Indian taekwondo group at the Olympics might break the glass ceiling,” felt Kiran Pawar.
After his 15-year career came to an end in 2017, Bangalore-based Kiran immediately took up the coaching role for the same reason – nurturing future heroes in the form of Korean martial arts.
Last week, the head coach of the Karnataka Taekwondo Academy had three branches at Yelahanka, Chikabanawara and Sri Kantarawa stadiums, where seven students participated in the national mini-Olympics .
“We won 5 of the 20 gold medals in addition to silver and bronze. All seven kids went home with medals. I couldn’t be happier,” said the proud coach.
Men’s Shaurya JS (u-44kg), Neil Baptist (u-49kg), Chiraag B (u-35kg) and Hitesh Sai (u-39kg) and women’s Saanvi Sri (u-53kg) rounded out the podium On, Heman Gowda (Men’s 35kg) took silver and Manvi Mithotta (Women’s 38kg) took bronze.
Kendriya Vidyalaya’s Year 9 student Shaurya was also named Best Fighter (Boy) during the two-day event. “I started kickboxing nine years ago, but I’ve improved the most under Mr. Kieran,” said the 13-year-old junior national champion.
Kiran works as a taekwondo instructor in the northern part of the Delhi Public Schools and travels between Yelahanka and Chikkabanavara day and night, training 50 aspirants at each branch.
“Three coaches take care of 150 kids at Kanteerava Stadium. Every weekend from 6am to 6pm, all 250 players gather here for a one-day training camp. So we don’t have days off,” the 29-year-old said. explained.
Kiran and his team of four coaches do little good in an often overlooked job determined to contribute to the popularization and development of the sport of kickboxing.
“There are about 100 kickboxing clubs in Bengaluru today, up from 15-20 a decade ago. It’s growing. Our dream of making the sport bigger may seem overly ambitious, but we are part of the martial arts family. Win or lose, we just know how to fight,” he said.