Reigning World chess champion Viswanathan Anand on Friday joined the Board of Directors of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), a "movement" initiated by billiards ace Geet Sethi to support the country’s elite sportspersons and potential young talent.
“I am quite honoured to join the Board of OGQ. As a sportsperson, it is nice to join my fellow sportspersons in making India a sporting and Olympic nation. Our upcoming sportspersons can learn a lot from our experience and we in turn can provide them a platform for excellence. I am quite excited in taking this initiative forward and making sports and excellence a part of our mind set," Anand said in a statement.
Making the announcement, Sethi, the multiple World billiards champion, said, "Viswanathan Anand is quite simply the greatest sportsman India has ever produced. His class and consistency in every format of the game make him a true role model for all Indian sportsmen. We are very proud to have him actively supporting the Olympic Gold Quest movement."
Anand, who was not present on the occasion as he is currently playing in a tournament abroad, joins the Board that, besides Sethi, includes Prakash Padukone, Niraj Bajaj and Leander Paes, apart from top Corporate honchos like R Ramaraj, Neeraj Bharadwaj, Shitin Desai and Rakesh Khanna with Hockey Olympian Viren Rasquinha as its CEO.
Sethi pointed out that the OGQ, in its 10th year of existence, was not an organization belonging to a "few of us, but it is a movement that seeks to produce Olympic champions from India."
He admitted that for nearly seven years, the OGQ had existed only on paper. "In the last three years, we have grown with the help of Corporate sponsorship that in turn helps us to fund Indian sportspersons with an eye on the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Ours is a non-profit organisation and shortly, we will be launching a retail movement wherein any Indian can contribute,” Sethi said.
Rasquinha said that so far, 21 sportspersons have benefitted from the OGQ funding and also support in terms of specialized coaching, medical and nutrition.
The list of OGQ supported sportspersons includes World No.2 badminton player, Saina Nehwal, shooter Gagan Narang and boxer Marykom, besides some talented youngsters.
"It is not just about funding, but also providing a support system for the elite sportspersons like timely medical help and equipment. For instance, we have provided top class equipment for PT Usha’s school of athletics and also specialized gear to Gopichand’s badminton academy in Hyderabad where Saina Nehwal trains,” said Rasquinha.
The OGQ takes on board sportspersons after carefully evaluating and researching the credentials and also taking expert opinion on potential. “Once they are on board with OGQ, we provide whatever support the athletes wants and also closely monitor the progress, all leading up to the 2012 and 2016 Olympics,” he added.