Private players in a public cause

There are many grassroots programmes, run mainly by the government, and organisations like JSW and OGQ need to stick to their vision of Olympic medals. Once the Olympic medals are ensured — they dipped from six in London, to two in Rio — Indian sports would be hale and hearty,

India’s premier woman shuttler P. V. Sindhu with former hockey international Viren Rasquinha, who is also the CEO of Olympic Gold Quest, a private organisation sponsoring young talent with an eye on the Olympics. OGQ had extended its support to Sindhu at the Rio Olympics and she repaid the faith with a silver.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

It was great while it lasted. The Mittal Champions Trust achieved its target too soon to survive for long!

When Abhinav Bindra, the then reigning World Champion, won the air rifle gold in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, it was four years late for him. An unstable wooden floor had robbed him of his medal in Athens in 2004. However, for the Mittal Champions Trust, it was four years early.

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Having been set up in 2005 by Lakshmi Mittal and Amit Bhatia in collaboration with Mahesh Bhupathi and his Asian Games mixed doubles partner, Manisha Malhotra, the focus was to ensure a clutch of medals and possibly gold in the 2012 Olympics in London. The Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal wanted to show the India power to the world, at his base in London.

With only Yogeshwar Dutt winning the wrestling bronze in 2012, the Trust continued for two more years before shutting shop. It did not want to do a low profile job.

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Even though it started by having squash player Dipika Pallikal as one of the beneficiaries, the Trust focused nicely on the Olympic podium. However, certain policy decisions saw it losing future Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and Vijender Singh, along the way.

Former tennis player Mustafa Ghouse is the CEO of JSW Sports. JSW was one of the sponsors of wrestling bronze medallist Sakshi Malik (right) at the Rio Olympics.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

Among all the support systems, the Trust was definitely gold class as it went about the task of preparing the elite athletes in the best possible way.

The continuity was maintained to a great extent by the Jindal Steel Works (JSW) Sports, with another tennis player Mustafa Ghouse managing the show, with the able assistance of Ramadhar Yadav, who was the Man Friday in talent scouting and executing the logistics for all support at the Mittal Champions Trust.

In the last Olympics in Rio, the wrestling bronze medallist Sakshi Malik was supported among others by JSW Sports. In taking the next step forward, JSW has been working on launching a State of the Art Academy, to cater to many sports, especially for its elite athletes. It has been a commendable initiative by JSW to sustain its interest in Olympic sports despite diversifying big time into ISL football and the Pro Kabaddi League. It also had a healthy relationship with the first edition of the Pro Wrestling League.

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In such a scenario, the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), established by Geet Sethi and Prakash Padukone among others, has stuck to its prime task of providing the missing link for the athletes to reach the Olympic podium.

The OGQ has had phenomenal success so far in its mission, even though there is a general feeling that it gets more credit than what is due, especially in the light of the Government being the biggest and best sponsor of sports in the country.

JSW was one of the sponsors of wrestling bronze medallist Sakshi Mallik at the Rio Olympics.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

 

However, it has to be admitted that the OGQ is pretty clear about its mission. Its vision is to “scout potential talent and identify areas of support” to work with all the stake holders.

Except for Sushil Kumar who won the bronze in Beijing and silver in the London Olympics, and the ones supported by Mittal Champions Trust and JSW, it has been OGQ that has been harvesting the medals in the last three Olympics, starting with Vijender Singh in 2008 in Beijing.

In London, shooting silver medallist Vijay Kumar, boxing bronze medallist Mary Kom, and badminton medallist Saina Nehwal had the support of OGQ. Of course, Gagan Narang, the first athlete to be supported by OGQ, won the shooting bronze in the London Olympics.

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In the Rio Games last year, P. V. Sindhu took Indian badminton and women’s sports to a different level by winning the silver. She had the support of OGQ.

In sustaining its focus, and having a bunch of experts who provide the support to the athletes on a regular basis, apart from addressing the needs of the athletes when they face a crisis, OGQ has been on the ball with single-minded devotion.

In Viren Rasquinha, the former national hockey captain, who has emerged as an able administrator, OGQ has a leader who has the acumen to derive the best results within the constraints of a tight budget.

There are many grassroots programmes, run mainly by the government, and organisations like JSW and OGQ need to stick to their vision of the Olympic medals. Once the Olympic medals are ensured — they dipped from six in London, to two in Rio — Indian sports would be hale and hearty.