Athletics

Charles Borromeo embarks on a mission

Charles Borromeo.

Charles Borromeo.  

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Former Asiad gold medallist to launch a hunt in schools

Starting this June, Charles Borromeo, winner of the 800m gold in the 1982 Asian Games (1:46.81), will launch a hunt in schools across the country to look for athletes who can be groomed into international achievers.

“We won’t promise medal winners as of now,” Borromeo told The Hindu here on Friday. “My aim is to first ensure mass participation and from there discover potential champions. It is an arduous journey but worth pursuing.”

Borromeo is part of the School Sports Promotion Foundation (SSPF), headed by Prime Minister’s Olympic Task Force member Om Pathak, and committed to “share” his experience for the benefit of athletics.

“Tremendous talent,” was how he described middle-distance runner Jinson Johnson, who clocked 3:37.86 in the recent CWG 1500m finals to break the 23-year-old record held by Bahadur Prasad.

“Johnson is very talented. Now he needs a mentor, who is equally good. A mentor does not interfere with the training but inspires by sharing his wisdom. Someone like Sriram (Singh) who holds the National record of 1:45.77s achieved in 1976 Olympics. But most importantly we must have a group of athletes with whom he can train. This collective training is very crucial to his progress. That’s how athletes in my time improved,” said Borromeo.

On the quality of contemporary athletes, Borromeo added, “We have lot of youngsters who can become champions but we need planning from the grass root. We have a rich legacy in athletics because most of them started in school, went to university and then the Indian team. It was a process that prepared you well. We need intensity at the school level because that is where the champions are discovered. I am going to plead with kids in schools to come and participate first and then dream of medals. Without mass participation, you can’t sustain the search for champions.”

Reflecting on his career, Borromeo noted, “I was fortunate I could, learn so much from greats like (Sebastian) Coe, Sriram, Edward Sequeira. I also gained by running with a bunch of athletes who created a healthy competition.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 4:59:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/charles-borromeo-embarks-on-a-mission/article23702374.ece

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