Several members of the Indian contingent to the Tokyo Olympics have been associated with the program in the earlier years of their career.

Khelo India is the flagship grassroots talent hunt programme of the union government of the country. In January 2018, Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi unveiled the first edition of the Khelo India Youth Games in New Delhi.

It aims at unearthing talents from the grassroots with a vision to make India a strong contender at the Olympics. The aim has been to harness the country’s tremendous potential in sports, inspire young talents, give them state of the art infrastructure and train them at the highest level so they can bring laurels to the country. It also aims to revive the sporting culture in the country and establish a strong framework.

Let’s take a look at how the Khelo India initiative has transformed the sporting landscape in the country.

5. Increased youth participation

The lack of participation is always the first hurdle in the process of promoting Olympic sports in India. The initiative has successfully been able to draw India’s youth to participate in sports other than cricket.

The inaugural Khelo India School Games in 2018 saw 3,764 participants. In the two subsequent years, the numbers increased up to 6,000 athletes from all across the country.

As it stands, a total of 18,744 athletes have participated so far at the Khelo India initiative till now. In addition, the Khelo India Winter Games were launched with the aim to promote winter sports in the nation. Through Khelo India, more participation has successfully created a talent pool, from which promising athletes can be mentored for the future.

4. Building Excellence Centres across the country

Khelo India
The government made a huge investment into the programme (via-khelo India)

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) has established 143 Khelo India district centres across seven states. The total budget allocated for this is over ₹14 cr. The initiative has emphasized imparting proper training for young athletes to help them develop their skills in their respective sports.

Apart from this, the MYAS also launched eight Khelo India State Centers of Excellence (KISCE). They are located in Odisha, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala. The centres are run by the respective state governments and will provide coaches and training facilities to young athletes.

Hence, the lack of infrastructure in sports has always been an issue in the country. Through Khelo India, the issue is now being addressed upon.

3. Best-ever performance at the Youth Olympic Games

The 2018 Youth Olympic Games was India’s most successful display at the Youth Olympics. The country bagged an impressive 13 medals. This included 3 gold, 9 silver and 1 bronze.

The Khelo India initiative was still in its infancy at this time. However, many of the athletes who won medals at the inaugural Khelo India Games represented India at the Youth Olympics. More promising athletes will most certainly come through in the upcoming editions of the Khelo India Games. Therefore, India’s future looks bright when it comes to the Youth Olympics.

2. Giving a platform to several Tokyo 2020 Olympians

The Khelo India games have provided many athletes, who have the potential to represent the country at the highest level. The recently concluded Tokyo Olympics is the perfect example of it.

Two of India’s brightest young talents, Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker, have risen through the ranks, courtesy of the Khelo India Games. Both shooters won gold medals at their respective 10m air pistol events during the 2018 edition of the Khelo India Games.

Manu and Saurabh are top shooters of India (via-tribune)

Despite both shooters failed to clinch medals at the Tokyo Olympics, they gained a valuable experience in turn. They are expected to grow stronger and remain medal contenders in the future.

Srihari Nataraj, who also won medals at the 2018 Khelo India School Games, participated in the Tokyo Olympics. This is after he achieved ‘A’ standard qualification time in men’s 100m backstroke at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome.

1. Nurturing potential stars for upcoming Olympic Games

The Khelo India initiative has given India a huge pool of talents who possess the skill to win on the grandest stage. Apart from the Olympians mentioned above, several other individuals are waiting in the wings and can be genuine medal hopefuls in Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.

Some of these stars include weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga who is India’s first-ever Youth Olympics gold medalist. Apart from Jeremy, Lakshay Sen in badminton, Mehuli Ghosh in shooting, Komalika Bari in archery, and Nisar Ahmed in athletics also look promising. These athletes, given the right financial support and training, have the potential to win medals at the Olympic Games in the future.

There is no doubt that the Khelo India initiative has set the wheels in motion. However, the athletes should receive proper supervision and the right support. Only then, will this initiative bear fruit for the country in the future.

For more updates, follow Khel Now on TwitterInstagram and join our community on Telegram.