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India targets Olympic success with elite training shake-up

Team of India for Rio 2016 Olympic Games attend the welcome ceremony at the athletes village. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Indian sports authorities are revamping their elite athlete training system with the creation of 20 ‘National Centres of Excellence’.

Each NCE will focus on between four and six sports, and will be staffed by the country’s best coaches. Local media reported that the move would improve conditions for athletes, including standardising their access to training, diets and equipment.

The change was announced by the Ministry of Sports and the Sports Authority of India, who said the goal was improved performances at the summer Olympics in Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.

The Press Trust of India reported that sports minister Kiren Rijiju said: “Standardising the training on a campus will enable athletes to attain much higher performances in their respective sport. When athletes of the same level train at a centre and the facilities are made exclusively available to them, they will train better and that will reflect in their performance. We are working in close co-ordination with (national sports federations) to ensure a smooth transition of our existing facilities into NCE and to identify more centres.”

The SAI regional centres which currently handle elite athlete training will administer grassroots training programmes and will promote promising athletes to the NCEs.

The facilities earmarked for NCEs are: existing SAI centres in Patiala, Thiruvananthapuram, Chandigarh, Sonipat, Lucknow, Guwahati, Imphal, Kolkata, Bhopal, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Gandhinagar; Delhi venues Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Indira Gandhi Stadium, Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex; the National Water Sports Academy in Alleppey; the National Boxing Academy in Rohtak; and the National Wrestling Academy in Aurangabad.