Jindal Steel Works (JSW) Foundation officially launched a Sports Excellence Programme (SEP) aimed at arming chosen Indian sportspersons in five disciplines with support to maximize potential. Wrestling, boxing, judo, swimming and athletics will be the focus for now, with 28 internationals already receiving support for a year now. Parth Jindal, son of JSW Group CMD, Sajjan Jindal, will oversee the project. A few of these athletes form part of the Indian contingent for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014.
Wrestlers form a major chunk of senior and youth internationals shortlisted, 12 in all including London Olympian Geeta Phogat, followed by judo (nine), athletics and boxing (three each) and swimming (one). “We are concentrating on five sports for now in SEP, these have earned maximum honors internationally for India,” informed Parth, adding that SEP will form part of the group’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). JSW is also building sporting infrastructure at Bellary, Karnataka, for use by its sportspersons.
Judokas were sent to Georgia for training under expert coaches, athletes went to United States Olympic Training Centre, Los Angeles. “We are not looking at just one Commonwealth Games, but looking at the next 30 to 35 years,” said the JSW spokesperson, elaborating that the group believes in working together with different national federations and government authorities.
JSW, owner of Bengaluru FC the I-League 2014 champion club in the first year of competition, is confident of completing the Bellary complex by May 2015. Geeta Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for an Olympic Games (London 2012) suffered a knee injury during training and was sent by JSW to Kokilaben Ambani Hospital, Mumbai, for surgery and HEAL Institute for rehab. Parth informed that supported sportspersons do not have to pay back any part of prize money earned.
The 12 CWG participants supported by JSW Foundation are Amit Kumar, Bajrang, Pawan Kumar, Babita Kumari, Vinesh, Sakshi Malik, Navjot Kaur (all wrestling), Garima Chaudhury, Shushila Devi, Sunibala Devi, Avtar Singh (all judo) and athlete Siddhanth Thingalaya, qualifier in 110m hurdles for CWG. Geeta will miss the CWG and Incheon Asian Games due the rehabilitation following knee surgery and is focusing on the next World Championship. Lightweight boxer Vikas Krishan, champion at the World Youth Championships 2010, is undergoing a training programme laid down by U.K. fitness trainer Malcolm Purchase.
Internationals present at the launch were teenage female boxer Nikhat Zeenat, judokas Garima Chaudhary, Avtar Singh, grappler Geeta, pugilist Vikas, along with former India Davis Cupper Mustafa Ghouse, CEO of JSW.