A former Indian Olympian and India's fastest man during the nineties, Rajeev Balakrishnan welcomed the news of Brisbane hosting the 2032 Olympics.
Balakrishnan, who represented the Indian athletics team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has been a resident of Brisbane for the last two decades.
The city was awarded the 2032 Olympics on Wednesday, triggering wild celebrations and fireworks. It became the third Australian city to host the Summer Games, after Melbourne and Sydney.
The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, confirmed the widely expected result after delegates voted 72-to-five with three abstentions at the IOC session in Tokyo. Responding to the news, Balakrishnan said:
“I really welcome the news of Brisbane hosting the 2032 edition of the Summer Games. It’s wonderful news early in the morning for all of us. It is certainly a proud moment for all the citizens of Brisbane.”
Balakrishnan has been the athletics coach at the University of Queensland Track Club ever since he settled in Brisbane in 2000.
Rajeev Balakrishnan would like to see his trainees compete at 2032 Brisbane Olympics
Some of the athletes Balakrishnan trained have since represented the country at international events. The 50-year-old, who was part of India's 4x100m relay team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, went on to say:
“I handle junior athletes of the University of Queensland Track Club. I look after the speed work of the young athletes and guide them on how to improve their speed. Several of my trainees have been selected in the national junior team. Who knows some of my athletes will make the seniors team soon and represent Australia in the 2032 Olympics.”
Bach's announcement was greeted by cheers from Australian delegates in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Brisbane's win looked a certainty after it was unanimously proposed as a single candidate for 2032 by the IOC's 15-strong executive board in June.
Recalling his memories from when Australia's Gold Coast hosted the Commonwealth Games, Balakrishnan said:
“We all are excited. Being the citizens of Brisbane, we look forward to the mega event. Today’s announcement will certainly boost sports in Australia and Brisbane in particular. Australia has a rich sporting culture. In the next few years, there will be so much sports awareness in the country. Just three years ago, Australia hosted the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. It was just an hour's drive from Brisbane.”
Australia has already hosted the Olympics twice, in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000, the latter widely considered one of the most successful Games in recent history.