Ranchi: The facilities are fast improving for Indian athletes but that is not translating into better performance from them as they don't seem to have strong enough minds, feels sprint legend P T Usha.
"Earlier, the performance of athletes was good even though facilities were less then. In comparison, facilities are better now, but performance has not come up to that level," Usha told PTI here.
Recalling her career, Usha said the current lot of athletes wind up practice at the slightest bodyache.
"Because the mind is not strong enough, and a strong mind is required to excel in athletics," she said.
Asked to comment on Usha's observations, R Elavarasi, who won the 400 M hurdles in the 53rd Senior National Open Athletics Championships here yesterday, said a full time coach and sponsorship were required to match Usha's feats.
"(O R) Nambiar sir totally devoted on Usha didi's training, overseeing from food requirements to her training facilities while fully focusing on her training," Elavarasi explained.
Usha is apparently trying to emulate her reputed coach as she imparts training to 23-year-old Tintu Luka, who finished 11th in the last Olympics.
"If Tintu can reduce one second in her event, she can be among the medal winners in the next Olympics," Usha said.
Usha also suggested long-term planning for the revival of the golden era when Indian athletes Shiny Wilson, Vandana Rao, Ashwini Nachappa and herself dominated the Asian track in the 1980s.
"Sponsors and support come only after a better performance of an athlete, and not at the performing stage," she said.
"Academy for athletics in every state, accommodation, foreign exposure by participating in age-group competitions, systematic and scientific training, parents motivation, grace marks in schools and reservation for athletes in government jobs are some of the important long-term plans to throw up medal winners at the world stage," Usha said.