The GAIL-Indian Speedstar project to spot, screen, select and nurture the talents in athletics reached its final stage on Thursday after the successful conclusion of its district and state trials. The practice camp began in New Delhi for the 92 athletes shortlisted from the state trials. The trials for wild card participants took place yesterday in which 42 kids took part out of which 11 got selected for the semi-finals.
The event was followed by the semi-finals from which 75 kids were shortlisted for the national finals held on Thursday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. In the National trials, the top nine athletes who met the benchmark set by the National selection committee will be provided with world class coaching for over a period of four years with an ultimate objective of one of these athletes representing India at the 2020/2024 Olympics.
The initiative, that kick started early this year, successfully conducted trials in 55 districts and state level trials in New Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The selection was based on talent identification and criteria set by the committee.
A total of 92 kids were shortlisted from Rajasthan (5), New Delhi (19), Odisha (15), Kerala (8), Jharkhand (3), Gujarat (4), Manipur (1),Maharashtra (19), Karnataka (2), Uttar Pradesh (12), Madhya Pradesh(3) and Jammu (1) for the National trials.
The National Selection Committee headed by the legendary PT Usha comprises other Olympians like Rachita Mistry, Anuradha Biswal and Asian and Commonwealth Games medalist Kavita Raut and national women’s 100m record holder Dutee Chand
GAIL Indian Speedstar is a CSR initiative by GAIL (India) Limited, which aims to spot, screen, select and groom young athletes in the age group of 11-17 years in 100m, 200m and 800m track events across the country. The event was part of the initiative taken by National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS) as part of nationwide campaign to find out athletes for 2020/2024 Olympics.
Speaking on the occasion, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that these kind of events were important to build up an atmosphere required for India to become a sporting nation. “These children who have competed today may become future stars and bring laurels for the country in international events,” he said whie addressing the gathering as chief guest.