Jamaican throws coach Michael Vassell, who spent two years in India to understand the athletics ecosystem in the country, believes India can make it big in world athletics.
Over the years, India has produced some outstanding athletes like Milkha Singh, PT Usha and Anju Bobby George. But the country has not yet won an Olympic medal post-independence in any of the track and field events.
Vassell said that an effort was being made at the grassroot level to unearth talent, which may see India become a powerhouse in athletics in the future.
"India could soon be a power in world athletics,” Vassell was quoted as saying by Jamaica-gleaner.com.
“I would say yes, as there is a proliferation of sporting academies that are focused on identifying and developing grassroots talent in most states.
“The challenge in India is the need to get international coaches who have been exposed at the level required to then impart this knowledge to both coaches and athletes.”
Vassell himself spent two years at the Andhra Pradesh Centre for Excellence and believes that India is more likely to do well in the field events first.
Neeraj Chopra will be carrying India's hopes in the javelin throw at the Olympics. He booked his ticket to Tokyo with a throw of 87.86m at the Athletics Central North East meeting in South Africa, which was incidentally, his first competitive meet after his return from injury.
“Their best chances lie in the javelin and the jumps,” he said. “They have a great athlete in World junior record holder Neeraj Chopra, who has the weight of the nation on his back in the javelin event,” he added.
Besides that, Vassell also said that there are high hopes from 2017 NCAA high jump winner Tejaswin Shankar, who also claimed a silver medal at the South Asian Games.
“There are also some promising long jumpers both male and female, one of whom is mentored by India’s lone World Athletics medallist, Anju Bobby George,” he said.