Odisha’s high-performance centre aiming at producing medallists for 2032 Olympics

Athletes from the High Performance Centre claimed a total of 25 medals including 10 gold, 8 silver and 7 bronze at the Odisha state championships in Cuttack in 2019.

An image of the Naval Tata Hockey academy at Odisha's High Performance Centre. (Representative Image)   -  special arrangement

Buoyed by its athletes’ impressive show at the national level, the Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High-Performance Centre here is aiming at producing medallists for the 2026 Youth Olympics and 2032 Olympics, its head coach James Hillier said on Sunday.

Efforts are on to transform the HPC into the most innovative High-Performance Athletics Centre in Asia, Hillier said.

The centre is a collaborative effort of the Odisha government and the Reliance Foundation, which had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2018 with an aim to improve the standard of athletics across the state.

Hillier said that the “holistic development” of athletes is integral to its mission.

The centre, he said, will create a sustainable development and support system to identify, nurture and maximise the potential of athletes from grassroots to elite level.

“Our marquee nationwide grassroots development initiative Reliance Foundation Youth Sports, which saw participation from 30,000 athletes in 2019-20 is also being used as a primary scouting platform for the HPC,” he said.

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While winning is a long-term goal, the HPC is currently focusing on the journey, the strategy and the holistic development of the player. It involves an integrated approach, a combination of physical, mental and psychological training.

After clinching two gold and a bronze at the Junior National championships in Vijayawada in November 2019, athletes from the centre claimed a total of 25 medals including 10 gold, 8 silver and 7 bronze at the Odisha state championships in Cuttack a month later, said an HPC official.

At the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) National championships in Mumbai in January, 2020 a further 13 medals, including 4 gold, 3 sliver and 6 bronze, were delivered by athletes from the HPC, he said.

“Odisha has the foundation of a really successful sports system,” said Hillier.

“The government is proactive and is willing to invest in good people to create a performance system that allows talented athletes to flourish.”

For now, the HPC is focused on sprints, hurdles and middle distance running but further expansion will see the inclusion of jumps and throws programme as well.

“We are confident we will unearth a new generation of stars from the state, athletes that can go ahead and will medals for India in the future,” Hiller said.