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Saina, Gagan call upon youth to support Olympic Gold Quest

Saina Nehwal with her bronze medal at the London Olympics

Saina Nehwal with her bronze medal at the London Olympics

At an intimate session inside the Indian School of Business at Hyderabad, Saina Nehwal and Gagan Narang joined forces for a short discussion on the efforts of Olympic Gold Quest and the support needed for athletes in India to realise their dreams. The room was packed to the brim with enthusiastic students and teachers from the prestigious business school in the city of Nawabs.

As Viren Rasquinha explained the genesis of Olympic Gold Quest, he led the enthralled audience through the experiences of his journey from a fledgling hockey player to captain the Indian team. The pain of finishing 7th in Athens, was soothed to some extent when he joined the Olympic Gold Quest immediately after completing his Masters at the ISB.

Discussing that the OGQ now supports 54 promising athletes – some of them as young as 11 through to 16 – from six different Olympic disciplines as they push ahead India’s quest for those elusive medals at the quadrennial event. While Indians won six medals at London last year, four of them came from OGQ supported stars. Emboldened by their success, OGQ is optimistic that an Olympic Gold medal isn’t really that far away any more.

Speaking about the challenges in moulding a successful sportsperson – Gagan spoke eloquently about the need for early identification and mentoring of talent, support to the athletes from parents and society and finally about the need for discipline and hardwork to accomplish their dreams. Gagan urged the gathered academicians to encourage thoughts and facilitate a brain storming session at ISB to discuss the challenges and probable solutions to address the neglect of sport in India.

Gagan had the lecture hall erupt in an explosion of clapping, when he said, “the only way you could raise your nation’s flag in another country was by succeeding in sport, especially the Olympics.” He also asserted that the joy and privilege of standing atop an Olympic podium is an incomparable joy.

Saina spoke about the potential for sport in India, after warming up to the audience with some self-deprecating lines that drew chuckles all around. The world No. 4 badminton player said that, based on her experiences in the recently concluded Indian Badminton League and the Gopichand Academy, the sky is the limit.

Saina recounted a number of star players from the Gopichand academy who have been exceeding expectations and winning tournaments internationally. The Hyderabad star asked the ISBians to imagine what might be if we had an academy like her’s across the nation. She expressed a fond hope that we would have quality sporting academies in towns and cities across the country to produce many more world class athletes from India.

Saina’s father discussed the joy and pain of raising an athlete in India. He poked fun at the fact that students could pass their exams in first, second or third division, but athletes had no such margin. Either they win or perish, he said. He also acknowledged the financial and technical support offered by OGQ to enable Saina realise some of her athletic dreams.

At the end of the session, both Gagan and Saina were at their friendly best mingling with the students and media. They signed autographs and posed for photographs without the slightest hint of indignation. The OGQ has been doing a stellar job promoting the idea of Olympic medals across the country. As they are able to rope in more and more sponsors, the demand for branded activities will also rise proportionately.

The OGQ is a non-profit body, striving to write on excellence in Indian sport. The start has been nothing but sensational and the players were kind enough to acknowledge the funding and support provided by OGQ.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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