When you exit the Nandakannan road and enter the KIIT road, you aren’t yet quite sure of what’s about to hit you. The sheer size of the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) overlay can leave one overwhelmed. If you are on foot, you would likely need more than a day to complete a tour of the entire facility and campus.
And for well over a decade now, KIIT and KISS have quietly created a sports hub, churning out international stars and athletes in the country. Their world-class infrastructure and coaching have produced nearly 70 athletes, who have taken centre stage at the Olympics, Asiad, Commonwealth Games and other international events.
Dutee Chand (Athletics), Shivpal Singh (Athletics), Amiya Mallick (Athletics), Srabani Nanda (Athletics), CA Bhavani Devi (Fencing), Amit Rohidas (Hockey), Sunita Lakra (Hockey) and Lilima Minz (Hockey) are among the prestigious alumni, who have honed their skills at KIIT. Most recently, another KIIT graduate, Amlan Borgohain, broke the 200m national record at the Federation Cup.
They house over 5000 athletes across 37 disciplines with over 250 staff, including trainers, physios, supervisors, and requisite infrastructure catering to nearly every discipline. The KIIT and KISS campus has 15 indoor sports complexes and four big outdoor complexes. Their sports village consists of athletics synthetic track, hockey, rugby and cricket stadiums with floodlights. They also have an Olympic size swimming pool, tennis hard courts and archery training field all with floodlights. They are also in the process of setting up their own velodrome for track cycling. They also have accommodation facilities of 3-star classification that can house over 25,000 individuals.
Their infrastructure and wherewithal allow them to host multi-disciplinary events like the first-ever Khelo India University Games 2020, which had 17 disciplines, Ranji Trophy matches, National Open Athletic championship, All India Forest Sports meet among other competitions.
Ranjit Naik, who was part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic selection camp and an international level archer, has had a life-altering tryst with KISS. Hailing from the Mayurbhanj district, Naik, son of a farmer, has been at KISS since his seventh grade. “I completed my graduation in social work. I am lucky, I don’t know how I ended up here. My food, stay, clothes and equipment have all been taken care of during my time here. You get what a professional player requires,” says Ranjit.
“We are not here only to serve Odisha sports. We are an institute working for Indian sports,” says Gaganendu Dash, Director of Sports at KIIT and KIIS. And the man behind this mantra is Achyuta Samanta, founder of KIIT and KIIS, who has spared no effort or money in creating this sporting hub in the city of Bhubaneswar.
Gaganendu also explains that once an athlete is part of the KIIT family, the staff work round the clock to ensure the best possible preparation for them both on and off the field. “We take care of their professional requirements and also ensure their requirements at home and their family are also taken care of. That is what Achyuta sir wants us to do,” he says.
KIIT had three representatives at the 2016 Olympics, while the number was four in the 2021 edition. Gaganendu is hopeful of raising the target to 10 for the Paris Games in 2024. How will they go about achieving the mark?
“The kids who are with us get the experience of an elite-level athlete. They also get the opportunity to train at the high performance centres in Odisha [at the Kalinga Stadium] and work with the coaches there. We also send some of our elite athletes to get the best training and conditions overseas. Amlan is in the US and we believe he is a probable to make it to the Olympics in the 200m event. We are considering the options to do the same for Dutee as well. Bhavani Devi is in Italy, because they have the best coaching facility there. Srabani Nanda, who was at the 2016 Olympics, is currently undergoing training in Jamaica.
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“We have some good hopefuls in rugby and if we can qualify for rugby, we might have 3-4 kids from KIIT in the national team. We already have the hockey players representing the national team. We have a pool of youngsters, apart from the elite athletes, who we think will be ready and be among the probables, who could make the cut for the Olympics,” says Gaganendu.
There are already plans in place for the 2028 Los Angeles Games as well. “For 2028, we have time to groom more athletes. We lost two years due to Covid-19, when the facilities were shut. Those kids who are back, the tribal kids, have had their progress derailed. We now have the task of getting them back to their best. We are targeting individual sports namely swimming, athletics, weightlifting, fencing and Judo as some of the games for the 2028 Games,” he says.
Sundargarh’s Amit Rohidas, the men’s national hockey team captain and Olympic bronze medallist, is pursuing his BBA at KIIT.
“They have brilliant facilities. I had heard and read a lot about their facilities but never seen it in person before. When I visited the place, and met with Achyuta sir and met the KIIT boys I decided to join here too. Whenever I am in Bhubaneswar, when I get the time, morning or evening, I come here to train or to swim or workout at the gym. I face no trouble in doing what I like,” said the 28-year-old Rohidas.
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The presence of international athletes in the campus provides with an invaluable opportunity for upcoming talents to pick their knowledge on the sport. “Whenever I go to KIIT, the kids there or from KISS or anyone who comes there, I try to share my experience with them and they are also learning and getting good coaching over here. That is how it should be and continue to be,” says Rohidas.