Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Thursday unveiled an ambitious programme named 'Operation Excellence London 2012' to prepare Indian athletes for next year's Olympic Games.
Announcing the launch of 'Opex London 2012', Maken said the country expects more medals in London than earlier Olympic Games and to achieve that the ministry will implement the programme in a mission mode.
"We are expecting better results in London Olympics than earlier Games. So, the Sports Ministry and Sports Authority of India have formulated Opex London 2012 which would be implemented in a mission mode," Maken told reporters at his monthly press conference.
"The programme will be a comprehensive one and will include training, coaching and providing all the required facilities to the athletes. The athletes will be given foreign exposure, participation in international competitions and hiring of foreign coaches to get the best results in 2012 Olympics," he said.
Maken informed that the programme will be implemented through two operational arms -- one meant for elite medal prospects who would be given special treatment and the other for the national teams of all Olympics disciplines.
"Medal prospect (athletes) and top 10 in selected individual disciplines will be managed and funded through the National Sports Development Fund. The preparation of the national teams for all the Olympic disciplines with a focus on training camps, national and foreign coaches, equipment support and training and competition exposure abroad will be implemented by SAI," the minister said.
Maken said the goals will be achieved in a time-bound and professional manner and for this purpose two committees an Apex Committee and Steering Committee -- will be formed with specific mandate and he will head the first one.
The Apex Committee will approve the action plan in mission mode while the Steering Committee, to be chaired by sports secretary, will approve and sanction the training camps for specific disciplines, diet/nutrition, foreign coaches and national coaches and competition exposure abroad.
The Steering Committee will also approve specific proposal under 'OPEX London 2012' and empanel various institutions, venues abroad where the selected athletes will be sent for training/competition exposure.
Besides the sports minister, the Apex Committee will comprise Sports Secretary, SAI Director General, representatives of sports control boards of Services, Railways and Petroleum, besides those of IOA, BCCI, CII, FICCI. It will also have four to six Olympians, senior sports journalists and joint secretary sports will be the member convener.
The Steering Committee will have other members in joint secretary (ISD) and joint secretary (sports), government observers, representative of NSF/IOA, any other members to be co-opted as required and executive director (SAI)/Chief operating officer (national teams).
Maken said India will focus on 16 out of 26 disciplines in the London Olympics as the country has chances to get quota places and win medals.
"Our focus is on swimming, archery, athletics, boxing, badminton, gymnastics, hockey, judo, rowing, sailing, shooting, table-tennis, taekwondo, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling and we will have continuous training cum foreign exposure/competition for the trainees in all the 16 identified disciplines for about 220-250 days in run-up to Olympic Games," he said.
Asked if the budget allocation for this year which has been reduced to one-third of that of last year would impact the funding of the ambitious programme, Maken said if the outlay is not increased in the revised estimates, the ambitious programme for the preparation of Olympics will be affected.
"The decrease in budget allocation for this year is a matter of concern for us and we are hoping that this will be rectified in the revised estimates. We are going to talk to the Planning Commission and concerned authorities. We are hoping that we will get more in revised estimates. Otherwise, the London Olympics programme may be impacted," he said.
Maken said training camps of some sports have already started and in case of others like hockey they will start later this month.
He acknowledged that the ministry is doing a tightrope walk in case of hockey after the Supreme Court had asked it to solve the dispute between Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation through "conciliation if possible".
"The Supreme Court has asked the ministry to initiate conciliatory process between the two parties and we have sat together will both parties earlier. Hearing at the Supreme Court is also coming up tomorrow," he said.
The Indian hockey team has been without a coach for the last four months and Maken said the ministry is trying to appoint a coach agreeable to both Hockey India and the IHF.
Interestingly, the Olympic hockey probables, who will start training from March 9, will be announced after the HI and IHF give them their respective lists of players.
"We want to appoint a common coach who are agreeable to both HI and IHF if possible. I can't say if the coach will be an Indian or a foreigner. The name of coach will be announced soon before the training camp starts on March 9," he said.