NYCS and GAIL launch grassroots athletics programme

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) To select and nurture talent in athletics, GAIL (India) Ltd. and National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS) have launched a nationwide grassroots athletics programme, naming it GAIL-Indian Speedstar.

The project, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative by GAIL, is being executed by NYCS pan-India in the age group of 11-17 in 100, 200 and 800 metres track events. NYCS has tied up with M/s Anglian Medal Hunt Company as its technical partner.

The programme aims to create a talent pool which will potentially bring glory for India in athletics at the highest echelon of sporting events – the Olympics – in 2020 or 2024. Legendary athlete P.T. Usha launched the initiative here on Tuesday.

“Initiatives like this is an innovative way to promote athletics among the youth. I am delighted to see the overwhelming response of the people. India has vast talent which needs to be identified and nurtured,” Usha said.

“Grassroot activities not only encourage the athletes who are deprived of the basic amenities but also give them the right platform to showcase their talent.”

The initiative in its first year, started earlier this year, with initial trials conducted at 55 districts across 10 states in which more than 25,000 kids participated out of which 850 finally made it to the state level camp for Selection.

The first state camp and trial was organised on February 27 and 28 at Sawai Maan Singh Stadium in Jaipur where 60 boys and girls participated out of which four qualified for the next level. The remaining state trials will be held in April.

The shortlisted will then participate in the national camp, scheduled in May at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here. The top nine athletes will then be provided world-class coaching for over a period of five years.

The national selection committee headed by Usha comprises of other eminent members like Olympians Rachita Mistry and Anuradha Biswal and Asian and Commonwealth Games medalist Kavita Raut.

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