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Quest for skilled athletes

It will a sporting Thursday for Jharkhand.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays his maiden visit to the state capital on August 21, the Sports Authority of India’s Ranchi centre will kick off a flagship event to cream off talented athletes and honour his 100-day agenda.

Soon after he assumed office, Modi had directed all ministries to come with ideas and schemes within 100 days to put the country on development mode. In keeping with that order, the Union ministry of sports and youth affairs had decided to come up with 12 elite cradles across the country to boost talent on field and tracks.

So, to begin with, a National Athletics (middle- and long-distance) Academy is coming up in Bhopal under the India elite excellence Programme for which the SAI centre in Ranchi has been asked to screen potential sportspersons from Jharkhand.

Centre in-charge S.K. Verma said the two-day selection trials from Thursday would be conducted at Birsa Munda Football Stadium in Morabadi.

“We will select potential athletes from across the state in three disciplines — 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000m — and between the age group of 16 and 23 years for the academy. We have tied up with the Jharkhand Athletics Federation for this purpose. The trials will begin from 9am,” Verma said, adding that the selection was open to all in the said age bracket.

He, however, maintained that the number of athletes to be selected would depend on the number of entries and quality of contenders.

“Nationally, only 160 will be creamed off for a half marathon scheduled in New Delhi in October. The final selection will happen on the basis of that performance. Around 50 per cent will join a special camp from where only 10-12 will find their way into the elite academy. There, they will receive professional training and guidance, and everything else that is required to groom a champion,” Verma said.

The 12 proposed academies of sporting excellence will cover disciplines like athletics, volleyball, swimming, archery, football, cycling, hockey, gymnastics and wrestling among others. The athletics cradle is being rolled out in two wings. While Bhopal will host the middle- and long-distance school, Thiruvananthapuram will host the facility for sprint and jump.

Jharkhand Athletics Federation secretary Madhukant Pathak hailed Modi’s sporting move, saying it would breed a new generation of quality sportspersons.

“Jharkhand is a powerhouse of talent. All athletes of this state needed was a right platform. The academy is the answer. If all goes well, India will come out with flying colours by the 2020 Olympics,” he said.