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HARENDRA Singh watched in astonishment as Australia marked Dhanraj Pillay out of the game during the Sydney Olympics. Pillay was at his peak, one of the pillars of Indian hockey team's success. What amazed him more was the manner in which the Kookaburras kept Pillay in check.
Chief coach of the junior national team back then, Harendra walked up to Australia coach Terry Walsh in an attempt to find out how they managed to tackle Pillay so well. Walsh was kind enough to share a few secrets with him but the conversation turned out to be an eye-opener for Harendra. "They had studied each and every player very closely, putting video recordings to best use. So every time Dhanraj had the ball, they would know whether he would pass or run forward with it based on his facial expressions. It was fascinating!" Harendra recalled, adding Australia had prepared more than 100 clippings of Pillay based on his playing style in different situations.
That was the first time Harendra was exposed to such advanced technology. He was quick to conclude that not adopting such modern methods cost India a medal back then. "We were lacking in technology. Since 1998, technology has boomed in sports and if in Sydney Olympics we had used technology, then after a long time India would have gained a medal in Olympics," Harendra said.
Over the years, the use of technology has made a great impact on the way sports are played and perceived. Athletes often tend to capitalize on the progress made in technologies, engineering and biomechanics to maximize training and performance. Everyone is seeking a competitive edge and advanced technology gives them just that.
Performance analysis has been an important aspect of game in Europe, Australia and America. India, however, has been lagging behind considerably in this area. Former India No 1 shuttler Aparna Popat supported Harendra's call for performance analysis in sports in the country. "India's sports are on the cusp of a good run especially on the back of winning several Olympic medals. But this is surely not good enough. We need a range of sophisticated, innovative performance analysis products. The current environment demands competitive edge in every walk of sport and that can happen only if we analyse our own performance again and again," she said.
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