Admitting that the country had paid the price for its earlier misdemeanours, the Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Jitendra Singh, expressed optimism at India’s chances of competing under its flag at next year’s Winter Olympics.

“I have requested the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to conduct its elections by the end of January or at the beginning of the following month,” said Singh, on the sidelines of the launch of boxer Mary Kom’s autobiography at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday.

“If that happens, we could compete at the Winter Olympics under the Indian flag” added Singh, of the games to be held in Sochi, Russia from February 7-23.

The IOA, though, has decided to conduct its elections on February 9.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had recently expressed contentment with the changes made to the IOA constitution. The amendments dictate that no charge-sheeted persons will be able to contest elections for the body. The IOA is expected to return to the Olympic fold once it conducts the elections.

If everything goes to plan for India, Mary Kom will be able to fulfil her dream of competing in another Olympics for her country at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I’m not going to retire,” said the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist at her book launch.

“I’m currently on break because I recently gave birth to my third baby. I will resume training at the end of next year.”

Jitendra Singh concurred with the boxer, stating that Mary’s story is far from finished.

“The publisher should be ready to publish another volume,” the minister joked.

The autobiography has been published by Harper-Collins.

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