This is perhaps for the first time that prompt action has been taken by a committee formed by the government in order to prepare an overall strategy for sports facilities, training and selection of athletes in India. The Olympic Task Force set up after the debacle of Indian athletes in Rio Olympics submitted its report suggesting a road map to improve India’s performance in the next three Olympics.
Last year, just days after India’s dismal performance in Rio Olympics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced to set up a task force to prepare a comprehensive action plan for effective participation in the Olympics. In Rio Olympics, India won only two medals (silver by PV Sindhu in badminton and bronze by Sakshi Malik in wrestling) even after sending its biggest contingent of 118 athletes. A PMO statement said, “The task force will prepare overall strategy for sports facility, training, selection procedure and other related matters.”
In January 2017, an eight-member Task Force of the Sports Ministry was formed. India’s lone Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra, national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand and former Indian hockey captain Viren Rasquinha were the three former sportspersons named in the Task Force. The other five members were School Sports Promotion Board head Om Pathak, hockey coach S Baldev Singh, Professor and Dean of Exercise and Physiology at Manav Rachna International University G L Khanna, journalist Rajesh Kalra and Sports Authority of Gujarat Director General Sandeep Pradhan.
The main job of the task force was to suggest a comprehensive action plan including short-term, medium-term and long-term measures for the Olympic Games. The members were also to suggest effective talent identification system for 2024 and 2028 Olympics and to identify components of world class support system for elite sportsperson. They were also given the task to suggest ways to create and upgrade sports infrastructure in our country and to make suggestion regarding foreign training.
The Olympic Task Force has held many meetings across the country with leading Indian sportsperson to hear their views. They also conducted a workshop in Ahmedabad, where various stakeholders came and shared their suggestions. Along with that, the coaches and Project Officers of Sports Authority of India (SAI) were also taken in the loop to understand their issues and how to help coaches to produce champions.
After working for about 6 months, the Olympic Task Force met Union Sports Secretary Sh Injeti Srinivas and submitted its final report to the Government. Apart from laying out its vision and objectives, the report focuses on three-fold formula- athlete-centric, coach-led and system-driven. It recommended about infrastructural changes in Indian sport along with elaborate introduction of sport science and culture of sports.
Now the report is placed, we hope that acting accordingly starts as soon as possible.