Dubai: Some of India’s top sports stars, including new badminton world champion P.V. Sindhu, the in-form athlete Hima Das and shooters such as Saurabh Chaudhary, Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil could end up preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games right here in the UAE.
Two of the top officials from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have started advanced deliberations with Dubai-based privately owned Transform Centre of Sports Medicine to ensure the likes of Sindhu, Das, Chaudhary, Chandela and Moudgil are among the elite athletes utilising highly advanced facilities available in Dubai while preparing for next year’s Games.
Sudhanshu Mittal, Vice President, IOA and IOA General Secretary Rajeev Mehta held initial fruitful talks with Dr George John, owner and founder of Transform Centre of Sports Medicine, and Brian Lobo, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Affairs at IOA stakeholder Edelweiss, on Sunday.
“The initial thinking is to bring Transform as an IOA stakeholder for a high-performance centre in New Delhi and at the same time utilise the expertise of Dr George John and his highly-skilled team from Transform in developing the fabric of Indian sports,” Mittal told Gulf News.
“The immediate plan will be to have a group of elite athletes come down to Dubai and continue advanced preparations for Tokyo 2020 and the long-term idea will be to create a pool of talented youngsters who can start their preparations in a near-ideal atmosphere of sport right here. There is so much of synergy between what India wants and what a body like Transform can provide.”
India has a dream of tabling a bid to host the 2026 Youth Olympics, the 2030 Asian Games and the 2032 Olympics. The IOA President Narinder Batra has gone on record recently to admit that India has to start winning medals in double digits starting in Tokyo if they are to realise this ambition.
“This is the new India and these are exciting times ahead. We’ve got a very clear idea about how we have to move ahead. India is ushering itself into a new work culture pegged on the quest for excellence. What our Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] has laid down is now getting translated and transformed into reality by virtue of the ‘Khelo India’ [Play India] and the TOPS campaigns,” Mittal said.
“We have invested a lot of resources and a lot of focus and energy has gone into achieving excellence through its athletes. And it is exactly this reason why the dividends will be forthcoming from the next Olympics and Asian Games.”
Khelo India is the national level multidisciplinary grass roots games in India held in the Under-17 and Under-21 age categories. Every year, the best 1,000 athletes are given an annual scholarship of Rs500,000 (Dh26,000) for eight years to prepare them for international sporting events.
The Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports that attempts to provide assistance to India’s top athletes. The scheme looks to add a premium to the preparations of these athletes so that they can win Olympic medals in 2020 and 2024 Olympics. Under the scheme, the Department of Sports has identified athletes who are potential medal winners at the next two Olympic Games.
“Sports culture and sports excellence is built over a period of time and takes a sustained effort. These things don’t happen overnight. The road ahead will get cleared. I am much impressed with what I’ve seen here [at Transform]. After seeing this we are very clear on what and how we have to take this forward,” Mittal said.
“The population dividend comes in two ways. One is structured development and the other is natural development. There is so much of talent in India that is not dependent on any support anywhere. That will manifest come what may. At the same time, given the focus, there is a structured development taking place as well. And the two put together numerically, there’s such a large talent pool that we are bound to succeed in the next five to ten years.”