Cash-starved Indian athlete mulls Italy move

New Delhi (AFP) –


Davinder Singh Kang, who this year became the first Indian to reach the world championships javelin final, has threatened to compete for Italy unless he gets more government finance.

Kang told AFP he is struggling to cover training and travel costs and is in talks with Italian sports authorities.

Kang, a 28-year-old army officer, is angry at being left out of India's Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), a sports ministry initiative started in 2015 to give money help to medal hopefuls.

"I meet every criteria that deserves a name in the TOPS scheme, but am simply amazed to find my name omitted from the list. What else do I need to do to prove my point," Kang told AFP.

"If you are not taking your top and deserving athletes in the scheme then I am afraid we are forced to go out in trying to pursue our talent and dreams.

Kang said he was in talks with Italy's Campionati Nazionali Universitari, an elite sports training scheme, through an Indian 400m hurdler now in Italy.

He has been offered support worth $2,000 a month but would have to compete for Italy.

India's TOPS committee has recently named 107 athletes who would be supported for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kang came just 12th in the world championship finals in London in August but says he is determined to prove Indian sports leaders wrong.

"I have a shoulder injury but will still participate in the the upcoming National Open Athletics Championships in Chennai and prove my worth by fetching another medal there," said Kang.

"There is a team of 27 that went for the world championships and I was the lone finalist. If we talk about the athletes selected in the scheme then you will find many who have not even qualified for the world championships.

"I have given them time to put my name in the scheme or else I will be forced to take the Italy route," he added.

Kang, who won bronze at the Asian Athletics Championships in July, says he has thousands of dollars of debt but will pursue his dream of an Olympic medal. The Punjabi insists that he loves his country.

"I owe a lot of money to many people including some of my supplement suppliers. Pursuing sports is an expenses thing, but I have chosen this path as a proud Indian.

"Athletes know that I have recorded an 88 meter-plus throw and 90m is an Olympic record and there is no doubt that I will get a medal," he said.