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To do Well at Olympics, India Have to Win at Sports Like Swimming, Says Olympic Champ Stephanie Rice

Australian swimming great Stephanie Rice on Friday said she is planning to set up an academy in India in her pursuit to produce future Olympic medallist from the country in her sport.

PTI

Updated:November 3, 2018, 1:50 PM IST
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To do Well at Olympics, India Have to Win at Sports Like Swimming, Says Olympic Champ Stephanie Rice
(Image: AFP)
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Australian swimming great Stephanie Rice on Friday said she is planning to set up an academy in India in her pursuit to produce future Olympic medallist from the country in her sport.

Rice won three gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the age of 20 and six years later she retired from the sport.

Beyond her television assignments and other promotional activities, she said her ultimate goal is to establish a swimming academy in India and groom Olympic medal winners.

“I am really working on it,” Rice told PTI in an interview. “I have had a number of opportunities to do that but just has not been the right time or the right infrastructure.

“I am quite passionate about India and I have spoken to quite a lot of people to start a swimming academy. If India has to do well in the Olympics, the country will have to win medals in sports like swimming.”

Asked if the sporting culture is lacking in India, she said, “It is not like that, India is fantastic in so many sports, say cricket or hockey. I don’t think that it is about lack of quality. India has a lot of talent and good infrastructure also. The issue is someone who is running it needs to understand what is going on at top level.”

She added, “You need people who have done before, great coaches and great support staff and they will have to be given time of at least four years. It is not that you will get medal after working with an athlete for one year. So, if India wants to do well in 2024 Olympics, we need to start now.”

Rice was a part of the commentary team that was analysing India’s performance in the 2016 Rio Olympics and she is currently doing the same job in the Pro Kabaddi League.

“I have worked a number of times for television in India,” the 30-year-old said. “I have covered India’s performance [in the TV commentary team] for Rio Olympics. They asked me whether I want to do it in PKL. I said absolutely I will do [it]. Three months in India for that and it’s dream come true.”

She added, “I don’t know anything about kabaddi before this assignment. I am starting from the scratch. It is tough to pronounce Indian names but I am learning and enjoying every bit.”

Last month, the World Anti-Doping Agency provisionally re-instated Russia after a three-year suspension following a major scandal over alleged state-sponsored doping, an important step towards allowing the country and its athletes to compete in international sport.

Many administrators and sportspersons have objected to the move.

Asked about this, Rice said, “There will have to be ramifications of what happened earlier, but at the same time you cannot withhold an opportunity for athletes who are clean to compete just because they are caught up in the mess.”

She added, “That is not fair either and I am sure there are a number of athletes who are clean but losing out because of a few who did dope. So, there should be no doping in sport but clean athletes also have the right to compete.”
| Edited by: Abhimanyu Sen
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