Drawing from international standards and its own track record, it is clear that data, India has the dormant potential to shine at the Olympics. To win more medals at the next Olympics, India should strategise the preparation; and, in the process, nurture and pique the interest of the general population in the various Olympic events.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) should structure the preparation for the 2020 Olympics according to this framework:
Concentrate on low-hanging fruit: The Olympics hosts over 100 events. We must give preference to the sports and games where we have the highest chance of winning, and this is based on past performance. Data show the following (table Highest Potential) are the games/sports in which we have the highest chances of winning medals.
So, resources should be divided accordingly. To achieve maximum efficiency two divisions should be outsourced to specialists and the rest should be covered by a dedicated government organisation.
Weaponise resources by restructuring: In India, we have enough human capital. The IOA should capitalise on this and create and invest in a “ ‘ Target Olympics Academy’ (TOA).
This division will be separate from the other units and come directly under the Sports Authority of India.
A stadium should be entirely dedicated to this division and the head office should pay for its maintenance and timely upgrading. Funds should be no constraint to creating top-class facilities. The Indira Gandhi stadium seems ideally suited to such refurbishing for this purpose.
Rigorous all-India trials should be conducted and students should be selected only on the merit of their performance. This selection should be done in two categories — under 14 and above 14.
Each batch should consist of 2,000 students, and the institute will be expected to sponsor their education, provide living arrangements and, on successful completion of the course, offer them jobs. They can also be given the option of staying on as instructors at the institute. This will ensure maximum participation and families from lower income groups will be encouraged to send their children to such an institute.
The coaches and facilitators should be selected from a pool of former sportsmen and world-class trainers, from India and abroad. This should be closely monitored by the SAI on a monthly basis and improvements put in place regularly.
Sending batches of sportspeople abroad to countries such as China, Germany or the UK will help them to get a feel of India’s standing in the world and encourage competitive learning. This will also help Indian sportspersons adapt to different climate conditions.
Boosting sports culture: In India, the term ‘sports’ is usually associated with cricket and, to an extent, football. Other sports remain ‘backbenchers’ in spite of their potential. The SAI should hire a marketing firm to popularise the other sports; for example, a “Heroes of India campaign”, which will help inform the general public of all other sports in which the country excels and also add a touch of glamour to them. The campaign should be modern, social media based and the main aim should be to raise the profile of lesser known sports.
This campaign could include:
~ A catchy song Promotions should run in social media, radio, print and television media, to help attract maximum participants and fans.
~ Promoting athletes by way of social media exposure.
~ Releasing small clips or teasers of the athletes working out or how they spend their downtime.
By increasing their popularity, it will be easier to attract investors, and the athletes can be featured in specific marketing campaigns.
Roadmap to the Target: A strict timeline should be followed for the success of this framework. The timeline proposed is as follows: