The disappointing performance by the Indian athletes at the Olympic Games in 2004 led steel tycoon Mr L N Mittal and his son-in-law Mr Amit Bhatia to set up the Mittal Champions Trust nearly seven years ago.
With 15 athletes supported by the Trust set to compete at the upcoming London Olympics, it believes it is closer to the goal to “put India firmly on the Olympic medal grid”.
“My family had gone to see the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, where to our disappointment we could not find enough Indian athletes to cheer for.
After internal discussions on how we could help change the scenario, the Mittal Champions Trust was born. It is our commitment to enable Indian sporting talent to shine on the world stage,” said Mr Bhatia.
Olympic gold winner Abhinav Bindra, wrestler Geeta Phogat, Asian games boxer medallist Vikas Yadav and discus thrower Seema Antil, are among the athletes being supported by the Mittal Champions Trust.
The athletes are identified through gruelling short-listing processes across the nation under the supervision of trained sports consultants. “The immediate focus has been to enable the athletes to perform well and win a medal at the 2012 London Olympics,” he told Business Line.
The Trust has made initial investments of worth $10 million on supporting the athletes and said that it does whatever it takes to offer them support and infrastructure and make budgetary allocations accordingly.
“We have increased our spends this year considering this is the Olympic year,” Ms Manisha Malhotra, CEO, Mittal Champions Trust, added.
The Trust has an organised programme focusing on five sports for the upcoming London Olympic which are archery, wrestling, shooting, athletics and boxing.
Ms Malhotra believes that at least 12 of its athletes who have qualified for the Olympics are medal hopefuls as the success of its athletes will be key to shaping up the Trust's future direction.
When asked about the Trust's role beyond the Olympics, Mr Bhatia said, “London 2012 would provide us with critical insights like what we did right, what could be improved and what gaps still exist, if any. Only after a fair assessment, will we decide on its future directions.”
Mittal Champions Trust believes corporate support brings about a sense of professionalism in an athlete's career.
“In the current scenario, corporate support for all athletes is essential because the Government is not able to support all their needs. Also corporate backing gives these athletes a huge psychological boost,” said Mr Bhatia.
For the Trust the return on investments is the medals these athletes will win at the Olympics.
“Our reward for undertaking this exercise are the medals that India will win,” he said.
Source: JUNE 13