'Cricket overshadowing other sports in India'

Olympic gold medallist Lord Sebastian Coe, who is the chairman of the Organising Committee for the 2012 London Olympics, believes cricket is overshadowing other sports activities in India.

Updated: April 28, 2011 09:59 IST
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London: Olympic gold medallist Lord Sebastian Coe, who is the chairman of the Organising Committee for the 2012 London Olympics, believes cricket is overshadowing other sports activities in India.

In an exclusive interview to Asian Lite, a leading publication for British Asian communities, Coe said the popularity of cricket, especially among the younger generation, is preventing the growth of other sports activities, particularly athletics.

"Indian diaspora can create role models from the world of athletics to promote sports activities other than cricket," said Coe, 53, a gold medallist at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

"We at London 2012 want to help Asian communities to create globalised role models,"
Lord Coe said.

"Recently at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Delhi in 2010, Indians realised that they have very talented athletes and it is not just about cricket, and other games can create very strong legacies."

Monty Panesar, a left arm spinner, Nasser Hussain, former English cricket captain, and
Mark Ravin Ramprakash, a first class English cricketer, are among the few Indians who have represented Britain both - at the county and international level.

Amir Khan, the British boxer of Pakistani descent, is one of those from outside the world of cricket. Khan currently is the WBA World super lightweight champion, who won the belt at the age of 22, making him Britain's third-youngest world champion after Naseem Hamed with Yemeni roots and Herbie Hide with Nigerian origin.

When asked about developments in India with regard to the arrest of CWG organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi for his alleged involvement in corruption and his removal from the post of president of the Indian Olympic Association, Coe declined to reply saying: "The matter is for the Indian Olympic Association to decide."

The development could have a ripple effect in his efforts to keep sports away from politics.

"London 2012 wants to leave a legacy in a number of areas and wants to ensure that sport is high up on the social and political agendas in countries around the world," he said.

And, in this quest, Lord Coe is trying to merge the process with Britain's ethnic South Asian community with the help of his chairmanship and his Punjabi background.

"The beauty of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is that no two Games are the same. Sydney was a fantastic Games with a great atmosphere and we would very much like to emulate this," he said.

Whereas Sydney 2000 raised the standard of the Olympics, London 2012 aim at providing the 205 Olympics and 170 Paralympics representative a home-like atmosphere as London is home to many ethnic communities.

At London 2012, Coe wants to help the Commonwealth nations around the world to create their own globalised role models and for the South Asian community these role models should come from outside the world of cricket.

London provides the best opportunity with a very large and diverse South Asian diaspora. Many boroughs of London are dominated by South Asian communities that migrated to Britain from Uganda and Kenya. This includes Pakistani Muslims and the Gujarati community from India.

London 2012 is organising both the Olympics and the Paralympics as one integrated project. The ticket sales for the 2012 games closed on April april 26. A total of 20 games have been arranged for disabled athletes, which includes wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby, power lifting, football 7-a-side, archery etc.

With over 200 member countries participating with their own flavour of culture, London becomes the best venue for this decade's sporting carnival. The athletes will be performing before the home crowd that is already away from their home in London, which has become their second address.

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