|Thursday, 8 August 2002|
Indian athletes set sights on Asian Games
NEW DELHI, Wednesday (AFP) Indian athletes are confident of proving their mettle at next month's Asian Games after their unprecedented success at the Commonwealth Games.
"We've done very well at the Commonwealth Games, but now our target is the Asian Games where the competition will be stiffer," said ace woman shooter Anjali Bhagwat, who won four gold medals at Manchester.
India bagged 32 gold medals in their best-ever performance at the Games to finish third behind Australia and England, but ahead of superpowers like Canada and South Africa.
"We've improved tremendously over the past few years and I see no reason why we can't do well in big events like the Asian Games," said Bhagwat after the Indian contingent returned to a warm welcome here on Tuesday.
Jaspal Rana, who bagged four shooting golds, said he had also set his sights on the Asiad, scheduled to be held at Busan in South Korea from September 29 to October 14. "A couple of days of rest and I'll be back at the ranges, " said Rana. "We've got to maintain the tempo and need to put in that extra bit now to do well in the Asian Games." Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi was ecstatic over India's performance, saying better days awaited the country's sportspersons.
"They've made the country proud," he said. "India has emerged as a strong sporting power and the Manchester show will give a tremendous boost to multi-discipline events in the country."Sports Minister Uma Bharti said she hoped India would be able to repeat its performance in South Korea.
"I don't have words to describe their performance and hope they continue to do well in the future too," said Bharti, who announced cash prizes for the medal winners. She said athletes would get 20,00,000 rupees (42,000 dollars) for winning a gold, 15,00,000 rupees (31,000 dollars) for a silver and 10,00,000 rupees (21,000 dollars) for a bronze.
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