Hard path to Olympic pedestal

Creating effective system of selecting and training talented athletes in various sports
By Lilia Semenova

Many elements are important in raising successful athletes, with natural talent and determination supported by efficient training and wise coaching. Such athletes as Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenko appear rarely, although Belarus has experienced success in other sports also. However, the question does arise as to how we can train more tennis players in the same vein, as the President mused on visiting Minsk’s Tennis Centre recently.

The establishment has seriously updated its facilities of late, with 12 new outside courts joining the existing four indoors, built 7 years ago. There’s also a small football field, a universal ground and a special training area. The conditions exist to raise tennis stars but a strict regime is needed. Mr. Lukashenko emphasises, “The system is the most important thing. We should choose fifty promising athletes, hoping that at least two or three will rise to the highest world ratings. We can do this but we need to create ideal conditions for athletes and their trainers.”

The idea applies not just to tennis but to swimming, track and field athletics and wrestling: all sports in which we want to achieve good results. An effective system of selection and training is necessary, with the President believing that selection must be fair — based on true sports potential.

The state will help those whose parents cannot pay for professional sports training. If necessary, support can be directed at infrastructure for tennis players; one of the most popular sports in the world, Belarus has many who are keen to play. Our courts are never empty. The President has suggested using the courts in Drozdy for training, saying, “Take the best and let them train there, especially in winter. The country has enough infrastructure for training. Use all reserves.”Mr. Lukashenko emphasises that not only state-run centres but private should become involved in training athletes. He also notes that the state will assist businessmen developing sports infrastructure. 
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