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    On August 7, just after 11pm IST, Dipa Karmakar will make the first Olympic appearance for India in the gymnastics competition after 52 years. Watching her from Delhi with a mixture of happiness, pride and a few pangs of envy will be the gymnast who planted the seeds of this grand a dream into the minds of Dipa and her coach Bishweshwar Nandi.Ashish Kumar won Indias first medals at an international gymnastics competition - first bronze in floor exercises and a day later, silver in the vault at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi. The same year at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, a far tougher competition, he was to win bronze on the floor. Dipa said, Ashish bhaiyas medal made us think that we must also try and win a medal for India. It is from where my coach and I decided to set a target and set about trying to achieve it.It is from that point as Dipa ascended, that the sport began to come apart in the country, largely due to administrative wrangling. Ashish says, The day I won a CWG medal, more than the joy I felt about winning the medal was the thought I had about the sport in the country. I thought, chalo, gymnastics can now shine, and younger kids will also start to get medals and everything is going to improve from then on.Far from that, the overall sport fell into a tailspin and a tough six years followed for the earliest pioneer of Indian gymnastics. Two groups are fighting for control of the Gymnastics Federation of India, it has been nearly three years since the last nationals were held and Dipas success is reflective not of the collective thriving of a sport, but individual drive.Ashish is currently at a training camp at the IGI Stadium complex which will last until August 10, one of three male and two female gymnasts apart from Dipa. He says, I was introduced to Dipa at the 2010 CWG Games camp held in Pune. She has performed so well and through her hard work, got such great results and qualified for the Olympics so we are all happy for her. Ashish himself now dreams of repeating a CWG-medal-winning performance in 2018, and qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He knows however that it will be a long haul. What he believes Indian gymnastics needs desperately though is a pro-active, fully functioning federation.He says, all activity in a sport is driven through the official federation, which does not exist in Indian gymnastics today. It means that despite the murmur around Dipa, Indian gymnastics remains at a standstill. Through the CWG2010 experience, Indian athletes, even in non-priority sport like gymnastics have understood that the road to international success is far simpler than they imagined before. It is why the absence of a committed federation rankles.Ashishs own blueprint for Indian gymnastics future is clear: for the elite athletes more competition, and for the coaches more?International Gymnastics Federation?(FIG) courses held in the country. The issues are not of hardware like infrastructure - Ashish says the UK Mishra academy in Allahabad, where he grew up, always contained high-quality apparatus - but rather getting coaches across age groups networked into contemporary developments in training and the gymnasts enough events to compete.Ashish points out that the FIG stages at least seven or eight international tournaments through which rankings are established. Being at those events is vital for gymnastics to work on improvement, Its not possible to enhance performance only by looking at video, you have to compete with the worlds best, see them perform in person. It makes a huge difference, helps boost morale, opens you up, in your mind and in body. Gymnasts need to compete in sizeable number of competitions - not the conventional single international event Indians get sent to every year. Ashish says, Then a time will come that you compete so often, that a competition becomes like a practice. If that happens, he says, the medals will start coming jaise kuch hai hi nahin?(like its not a big obstacle at all).It was his first-hand experience with the eccentric but successful US-based Russian coach Vladimir Chertkov, that introduced Ashish to the basic building blocks of an international standard gymnast. When Chertkov came into India 18 months before the CWG 2010, he spent his first few months conducting trials and fitness tests to sift out the stronger gymnasts from the weak, and build on strength. Then came a five-month camp in Pune where the gymnasts were made to do special conditioning exercises on every apparatus. Before Chertkovs way, says Ashish, We would turn up and do a warm-up and a halka-phukla?(light) conditioning and then do training. Under Vladimir, we would come in do special conditioning exercises on each apparatus as soon as we got into the gym. And only after those special conditioning exercises, could we go to practice. It was to change a gymnasts normal load two and a half times.At the start for the first two weeks it was tough because our bodies were not used to it, it wasnt habitual, but slowly after a month or so, our conditioning happened to work easily and we could feel it in our bodies - that they were getting fitter. So the gymnasts would work on six apparatus every session and then do three event trainings in the morning. We were doing nine apparatus in a day. And we did a few smaller exercises to improve our posture and our execution.?For gymnasts like Ashish, the results from the CWG and Asian Games were there to see.The other link in the chain now in terms of developing Indian?gymnasts today, he says, is for the FIG to be invited in to conduct various levels of coaching courses in India. At present, he says India has only one FIG-certified level 3 coach, Manoj Rana, level 3 being a high-performance level accreditation to work with the elite level athletes.?The FIG Level 1 course is for sub-junior kids, level 2 is for older. The courses teach the coaches about the training load of various levels and things like that. Only when our coaches become knowledgeable, can they use that knowledge and teach us what we know. It is possible that current coaching methods in Indian gymnastics at the wider level are antiquated but our coaches can only learn when they go onto these coaching courses, only then can they pass it on to us to learn.Dipas qualification for Rio could perhaps become an urgent message the Sports Ministry and the sports authority of India to take over Indian gymnastics until the issue about the Federation is sorted out and one federation can be formed, which is affiliated to the IOA and the ministry, one that can work and will work. Until that administrative muscle-flexing is sorted out, the planning around the sport needs to be conducted by SAI and the sports ministry, without any interference by feuding federation blocs.Asish says the current gridlock is only damaging Indian gymnastics. What could happen then is that Dipa will go to the Olympics and return and we will be back in the same place again. 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In the first interview hes granted since he was dismissed as head coach of Oregon, Mark Helfrich says he reached out to former coach Chip Kelly a couple of weeks ago when he thought he could be fired.Helfrich tells ESPN Radio that he reached out to Kelly when it started going south for the Ducks and the rumors heated up, in the interest of trying to save his assistants jobs.When you start thinking of your assistants and all the support staff and all those people, if he were to come back here some of those people would be `saved quote-end quote, Helfrich said..ddddddddddddHelfrich was fired by Oregon on Tuesday after four seasons with the Ducks. He took the team to the first College Football Playoff championship game two seasons ago but the team faltered this past season, going 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Pac-12.Kelly said Wednesday that he intends to remain the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.---More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 Wholesale Jerseys ' ' '

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