While I have always been really bad at running, I was unusually enthusiastic about the sport. What fascinated me was the fact that you need not master an external prop; be it a football or the cricket bat to perform well. It all boiled down to the natural talent you had and the amount of hard work you put into practice. I grew up hearing the exploits of PT Usha and Milkha Singh and praying to God to give me that speed that would stun my competitors. My childhood dreams soon vanished to be replaced with something else but the thought remained with me. Why, in the last 24 years of my life, I haven’t heard of another truly great Indian Speedstar. A woman or a man who truly took our breath away with her or his running abilities. The fact of the matter was, in India, all sports (besides cricket of course) were not given the support they so required to realize the potential of the youth.
Which is why; GAIL (India) Limited has taken up on itself to identify India’s next Speedstar with its grassroots athletics program GAIL-Indian Speedstar. GAIL (India) Limited and National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS), launched this program on the 22nd of March, 2016 in New Delhi. The sole aim of this program is to identify talent in the young men and women in the age group of 11 to 17 years and to nurture it.
The program aims to create a pool of athletes with knack which will possibly bring honor for India in track events at the highest echelon of sporting events – the Olympics 2020/2024. Something that I am definitely rooting for! But who are going to select the possible set of the millennium Olympians for India?
The most famous names in the sporting world of course! P.T Usha, Rachita Mistry, AnuradhaBiswal & Kavita Raut have been appointed in the selection committee to support selections and guide coaching camps. After its launch, the GAIL- Indian Speedstar has already conducted initial in 55 districts across 10 states in which more than 25,000 children participated out of which 850 children made it to the State level! It is very heartening to know that
Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Hon. Minister of State, Dutee Chand, AnuradhaBiswal and Purnima Hembram also decided to participate in this program to select ambitious young athletes from Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
The first State level camp and trial was organized in Jaipur (4 selected) followed by Odisha (14 Selection), Delhi (28 Selection), Kerala (28 Selection) &Jharkhand(4 Selection) Maharashtra and Gujarat in the last week of April. The shortlisted children from the State trials are going to go all the way to Delhi to participate in the National camp and selection at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The top 9 athletes who will then be selected would be provided with a world class coaching for over a period of 5 years with an ultimate objective of one of these athletes to represent India at the Olympics. I am going to have my eyes peeled to the track events in Olympics 2020 as I give a big cheer to our GAIL India Speedstar.
For more information on Gail-Indian Speedstar and to watch some interesting videos, do check and visit