NEST, ONGC scouting for 'Diamonds in the Hills'
Life in the mountains is tough. Narrow roads make it difficult for vehicles and people travel long distances on foot through tough terrain. As the science says, lower levels of oxygen in high-altitude regions can help increase the red blood cell (RBC) count. This gives people from the mountains a natural advantage over others.
The 1968 Mexico Olympics in Mexico City, at an altitude of about 7,350m above sea level, proved an important point. Endurance events saw a huge dip in result timings while the performance of the athletes in anaerobic and sprint events touched new heights.
Since then, the best performers in sports have used altitude training to help with performance.
Considering this, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC) and Nurturing Excellence in Sports Trust (NEST), a sports NGO based on New Delhi, have come together to find the best talent in middle- and long-distance events from the mountain areas of India.
The talent scouting program, named “Himalaya Mein Heeron Ki Khoj”, scouts for talent in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, the North-Eastern states and the West Bengal hills.
The journey of this talent scouting programme began in Uttarakhand in July 2017. The focus has now shifted to the north-eastern region of the country. Upon finishing, the journey will return to the northern with trials to be held at Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
The selected budding athletes from the Uttarakhand region are undergoing rigorous training schedules under the watchful eyes of the coaches, where they are working on improving their skills, fitness, stamina, and endurance.
So far, over 6,000 athletes were looked in the trials at various states. Out of these, the six best athletes were selected for further coaching and help ahead of national events. The success of these athletes drives the program, in the hope of bringing more talent from the toughest terrain of the country.