Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], Aug 21 (ANI): James Hillier, the head coach at Odisha's Athletics High-Performance Centre (HPC) in Bhubaneswar, has said that they are working towards developing this HPC into the most innovative High-Performance Athletics Centre in Asia.
The High-Performance Centre is a collaborative effort of the Odisha Government and the Reliance Foundation, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2018 with the aim to improve the standard of athletics across the state and produce home-grown athletes who can achieve both national and international success.
"We are working towards developing this HPC into the most innovative High-Performance Athletics Centre in Asia. It will create a sustainable development and support system to identify, nurture, and maximize the potential of athletes from grassroots to elite level. Our marquee nationwide grassroots development initiative Reliance Foundation Youth Sports, which saw participation from 30,000 athletes in 2019-20 is also being used as a primary scouting platform for the HPC," Hillier said in a statement.
"We have ambitious plans to produce a home-grown Youth Olympic medalist and a home-grown Olympic Games Winner in the future. While winning is a long-term goal, the HPC is focusing on the journey, the strategy, and the holistic development of the player that involves an integrated approach, a combination of physical, mental, and psychological training," he added.
After clinching two gold and a bronze at the Junior National championships in Vijayawada in November 2019, athletes from the centre claimed a total of 25 medals including 10 gold, 8 silver, and 7 bronze at the Odisha state championships in Cuttack a month later.
At the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) National championships in Mumbai in January 2020 a further 13 medals, including 4 gold, 3 silver, and 6 bronze, were delivered by athletes from the HPC.
To ensure the athletes have a clearly defined pathway towards progress, the HPC has split operations between a "Monitoring Cohort" and "Academy".
Athletes in the Monitoring Cohort are between the ages of 13-17 and identified as being a maximum of 5 years away from winning a national level medal. 20 such athletes from all over Odisha are currently part of the monitoring cohort and reside at the Bhubaneswar state sports hostel.
Athletes in the Academy group are 16 years or older and identified at various stages of development from being two years away from winning a national level medal to those with established international credentials.
There are seven such athletes (four from Odisha) at the HPC academy currently, who live at the Kalinga stadium. Nine more athletes (two for the academy and seven for the monitoring cohort) from the state have been identified for the programme after a trial selection camp for the best young athletes in the state was held in February.
These athletes will be integrated once it is safe to do so in the wake of protocols established to combat the COVID-19 crisis.
"Odisha has the foundation of a really successful sports system. The government is incredibly proactive and is willing to invest in good people to create a performance system that allows talented athletes to flourish," Hillier said.
For now, the HPC is focused on Sprints, Hurdles, and middle distance running but further expansion will see the inclusion of jumps and throws programme as well. (ANI)