Guwahati, Thursday, August 11, 2016
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Usha confident of Indian runners
PABITRA GOGOI

 
 RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 10 - Finally the grueling 22-hour journey from Guwahati to Delhi to Abu Dhabi to Sao Paolo to Rio de Jenairo came to an end at 7.30 pm today (Rio time).The local organising committees of the 31st Olympic Games at Sao Paolo and Rio have set up makeshift offices but the young volunteers, sporting their traditional yellow-red track suits, hardly showed any enthusiasm in welcoming their guests from all over the world, like they did during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The first impression we got here was that the common people here are least interested on the greatest show on Earth that is going on in this beautiful city.

The Rio Games have already stepped into its fifth day this evening, and the USA is leading the medal tally with 24 gold, while Russia, tainted with doping controversies, is standing second with 17 gold medals.

The athletes are still pouring on from various countries along with supporters and tourists.

Indian sprint queen PT Usha was travelling with us from Abu Dhabi. During the long 17-hour journey from Abu Dhabi to Sao Paolo, the former star athlete, who is still maintaining her health at 52, was doing light workouts on the aircraft.

Talking to The Assam Tribune at the Abu Dhabi airport, the legendary athlete said that she is going to Rio to boost the Indian women sprinters Dutee Chand (100m) and Sarbani Nanda (200m). She, however, said that there is only a very remote chance for either of them to win any medal, but both the runners are confident of putting up a spirited show.

On the possibility of winning any medal by the Indian athlete, Usha said that India has some quality athletes in Vikash Gowra (discus), Seema Antil (women's discus), Manpreet Kaur (woman shot put), among others. But to win a medal at Olympics is very tough, as all the top athletes of the world compete here. However, as the top Russian athletes have not been fielded this time, Vikash may hope for a podium finish.

Assam Hockey Association secretary and an official of the Indian hockey team Tapan Kumar Das was also with us.

Some other athletes from countries, like Iraq and Iran along with their officials were at the Sao Paolo airport where the organisers have arranged separate immigration counters for Olympic athletes and officials. The queue is indeed short in these counters and we were cleared quickly.

Almost all the athletes and officials had to land at the Rio domestic airport. Some of the Indian Olympic Association officials had to wait for a long time at the airport before a lady volunteer guided them to their destination.

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