Beyond Olympics 2020: Will India’s Record Medal Haul Boost Investment in Sports?

Industry Watch | August 11, 2021 | Feature

The Ignite Enterprise Neerav Tomar IOS Sports Rishikesh Joshi Sports For All

The curtains have come down on the Tokyo Olympics. India capped off its best-ever performance with a haul of seven medals including its first athletics Gold. EVENTFAQS Media reached out to sports and event experts to know their views on the following:

Will India's record medal haul improve investment in Olympic sports and infrastructure from (i) the government and (ii) the private sector? Have initiatives like TOPS contributed to the better medal haul? What does India have to do to better the tally in Paris 2024?

Here's what respondents had to say:

‘There is a sense of belief and confidence amidst the government and private sector companies’
Shaju Ignatius, Founder Director, The Ignite Enterprise

This year's path-breaking performance by the Indian contingent at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has definitely grabbed a lot of eyeballs and positive attention. The historic Gold medal in track and field by our young champion Neeraj Chopra will be a talking point for years to come.

We all should now believe that with better infrastructure and player management, India is very well capable of competing against top countries in the race for more medals. There is a sense of belief and confidence amidst the government and private sector companies that from this moment on India is only going to move upwards in the Olympics table and hence I think they will be glad to invest and associate themselves in this phase of growth.

A lot of our athletes, as we know, come from a humble background. Many of them are extremely talented and skilled, however due to shortage of funds they do not get the type of training, diet and global exposure that is required for winning medals at the Olympics and other international events. With programs like TOPS they know that they have that financial aid cushion, thus it helps them concentrate fully on their game and bring home medals and accolades.

The Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) which was introduced in 2014 currently covers more than 100 athletes, and more than 200 junior athletes were inducted into the scheme last year with the vision of prepping new potential medal winners for the future Games.

A few factors which will play a vital role for India in Paris 2024 and beyond into Los Angeles 2028, Brisbane 2032 and further are:

a) Focus and equal impetus to female athletes: We have to continue the set process of equal opportunities and facilities across the country, with a systematic grassroots scouting agenda. Performances by our female athletes have been spectacular over the last few Olympics, and in Tokyo we have witnessed the emergence of superstars like Kamalpreet Kaur, Aditi Ashok and our women’s hockey team, amongst others.

b) Reforming Infrastructure: To date there are a lot of budding athletes who miss out on opportunities to train due to lack of infrastructure, especially in smaller towns. If we could set up a mechanism whereby the authorities review each and every sports infrastructure in the country, upgrade them and maintain quality standards, we have a very high chance of producing more champions.

c) Player Management: Now more than ever we need to engage professionals to manage our talent. The athletes need to be prepared to experience the big stage beyond their skill sets, they need adequate management teams and coaches to handle their environment. We have a handful of Ccorporates and professionals who have been very proactive in the process. However, we need many more to join this journey and fast-track our medal aspirations for the future.

‘We should start preparations for Paris 2024’
- Neerav Tomar, CEO and Managing Director, IOS Sports

The Tokyo Olympics 2021 has been India’s best Olympics so far, with a total of seven medals, including one Gold medal, two silver and four Bronze medals. This has definitely been a big achievement for us in the last few decades. Both government and private sectors are taking interest in offering investment in sports but I believe this all depends on the performance. The athletes’ performance gives them the recognition, which in turn brings more investment.

I have not studied TOPS. But they have a very focused group for the Olympians and the government has invested heavily by providing financial support. This has definitely helped us to show athletes their potential. Though we cannot evaluate how much it contributed, it has contributed with not only financial support but a systematic infrastructural strengthening of India’s chances of bringing home Olympic medals.

It’s just three years for Paris 2024 and we should start our preparations. Our win this year is an inspiration to the young potential athletes to raise the tally in Paris 2024. Along with world class infrastructure, we must also engage coaches and professionals of international standards. We should aspire for a double-digit medal haul in Paris 2024.

‘To use funds optimally is the key’
- Rishikesh Joshi, Founder, Sports For All

The more important thing, which has now started to happen in India, is that the investments from corporates and private sector have not only increased but started to get channelised in the right direction! This will definitely increase as we go along towards Paris 2024 and LA 2028. To use funds optimally is the key. India will see much better results across multiple sporting disciplines in Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games going forward.

Institutions like the Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS) Vijayanagar, Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Center and Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence have added tremendous value to creating a holistic ecosystem to nurture and train top athletes.

We should keep doing what we started under the leadership of Sh. Kiren Rijiju’s (ex-Union Sports Minister). Organisations such as the SAI further intensify our efforts in the right direction to see better results. Collaborations and partnerships between public and private sector organisations in tandem with sports associations and federations will propel India to the top of the global sporting map.

EVENTFAQS Media also asked Shaju Ignatius of The Ignite Enterprise, Neerav Tomar of IOS Sports and Rishikesh Joshi of Sports For All about the impact of TOPS and the road to Paris 2024.

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