Top sports stars laud Khelo India initiative
New Delhi Feb 1 (PTI) The country's sporting stalwarts such as P T Usha, Bhaichung Bhutia, Vijender Singh today lauded the government's 'Khelo India' initiative, saying the ongoing School Games will leave a lasting impact on Indian sports.
"The pyramid structure of Khelo India will have a strong and lasting impact at the grassroots level. It is important that we reach out to the kids and encourage them to go out and play. I am sure this will help spot a good crop of fresh talent in greater numbers," former Indian football team captain Bhutia said.
Olympics medallist boxer Vijender said the initiative will benefit the country in the years to come.
"It is a very good initiative by the government and a step in the right direction. It will give a huge boost to India's Olympics aspirations. I lend my full support to the Khelo India initiative," Vijender said.
Rio Paralympics medallist Deepa Malik said: "It is high time we pushed the country to become a sporting nation. It is only when we catch talent at an impressionable age, that will help in inculcating the habit of sports as a healthy lifestyle.
"It will help in changing the image of new India and transform India into a sporting powerhouse."
Former sprint queen Usha said the athletes were lucky to have the support of the government at such a young age.
"We used to get support only after winning medals. We did not have a system that Khelo India is trying to put in place to capture, groom and nurture talent. Our young athletes are very fortunate to find this kind of support from the government," she said.
Gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who missed a medal by a whisker at the Rio Olympics, said the School Games will have direct bearing on India's future medal prospects.
"It is a great opportunity for India to improve its medals tally in the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. If all those who are selected through this programme train well, follow schedules do not have to worry about financial support, India will definitely win more medals than expected," she said