New Delhi, Aug 3 : With only a few days left for the 2016 summer Olympics to take off in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, it would be of interest to know the slew of initiatives undertaken by the Sports Authority of India and the Ministry of Sports to improve the facilities for the Indian contingent to help them to perform better since the 2012 London Olympics.
India has sent its largest ever contingent to this year's games, comprising of 119 athletes in 15 disciplines, and there is hope that given the right kind of encouragement in terms of training and facilities, the participants will do their best to improve on their London Olympics tally of six medals, including two silver and four bronze.
One of the prominent initiatives was the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, formulated by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, to provide customized training to athletes participating in the Rio Games.
A budget of Rs 45 crore was allotted for this purpose. Over 100 athletes have been covered under the scheme. Financial assistance ranging between Rs 30 lakh to Rs 150 lakh was sanctioned to each athlete. In earlier Olympics, for acclimatization purpose, athletes were sent only two or three days before the start of the Games.
This time, it was left to the convenience of athletes to reach Rio 15 to 20 days before for acclimatization in terms of climate and environment etc.
Also, an Indian menu has been introduced in the Games Village for the benefit of our athletes, officials and support staff following a lot of effort through the Indian Olympic Association and the Rio Olympics Organizing Committee.
For the first time, payment of an "Out of Pocket Allowance" to athletes has been introduced. Athletes undergoing training/ competitions in India are now being given Rs. 1 lakh p.m. When the athletes went out of the country for training /competitions, they were being given USD 100 per day.
This provision was not offered in the London Olympics. During the period of stay in the Games Village at Rio, the IOA would provide a pocket allowance of USD 50 per day to each athlete.
The SAI would provide another USD 50 per day per athlete. Thus, each athlete would get USD 100 per day for the actual period of stay at the Olympic Games Village.
Women Hockey for the first time after 36 years qualified for Rio Olympics. This has been possible due to liberal financial support for foreign training and exposure and engagement of foreign coaches.
For the first time, additional technical officials like personal coach, physio, masseur, trainer required for athletes for preparation for Rio have been sent along with the athletes while managerial staff has been minimized.
During the period between the London Olympics in 2012 and the Rio Olympics in 2016, SAI centres were equipped with modern facilities such as anti-gravity tread-mill, hypoxic chamber and neurotracker etc.
In addition, modern sports science equipment were procured and provided at various centres for athletes.
In addition to the above mentioned initiatives, salary structure of coaches employed in camps has been revised upwards from Rs 50,000 up to Rs 2,00,000 p.m.
depending upon the level while liberal policy was being adopted for engaging personal coaches, mental trainers, physios and fitness trainers for high performing athletes.