When they began their climb to sporting glory, it was steep and lonely. They want to ease the journey for those hoping to emulate them. Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) is the brainchild of badminton legend Prakash Padukone and nine-time billiards world champion Geet Sethi. The non-profit organisation aims to bridge the gap between Indian athletes and their world-class rivals by providing monetary and technical support to those with potential to win an Olympic gold medal.
OGQ has shortlisted six disciplines in which it sees Olympic medal potential. It is currently supporting 24 sportspersons - four athletes, five shuttlers, six boxers and nine shooters. It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the PT Usha School of Athletics under which OGQ will construct a synthetic track and wellness centre at the academy premises and fund the training and travel of the trainees of the track legend. OGQ has been criticised on account of the fact that they have signed only established stars and haven't done much at the grassroots level. Its COO and hockey Olympian Viren Rasquinha says that is set to change: "We're already preparing for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics and have signed teenagers like PV Sindhu (badminton). We have a long-term understanding with the Usha school. But such programmes need huge funding. We are working towards that."
The pioneers who gave more than just the money
This is one solid bid to add steel to Indian preparations. The Mittal Champions Trust (MCT) was the first real initiative by a corporate giant to create a system that can give a finishing touch to efforts by the government and national federations to produce champions.
Formed five years ago with an initial funding of $9 million, it began by signing up Abhinav Bindra, who went on to claim the country's first individual Olympic gold, the then-struggling badminton ace Saina Nehwal and squash player Joshna Chinappa.
It inked long-term deals with the boxing, wrestling and archery associations. MCT not just provided financial support to the athletes but also provided training at the best facilities across the world. The support staff - masseurs and physiotherapists - brought in by the Trust played a crucial role in preparing our medal-winning boxers and wrestlers. MCT is supporting 40 sportspersons but some of the big names like Saina and Vijender Singh (boxer) have shifted to OGQ.