Asserting that the inaugural edition of the Khelo India School Games has been a resounding success, Sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore hoped on Tuesday that it will help to improve India's performance in the international arena.The minister met several of India's sporting legends who form the Talent Identification Committee (TIDC) here on Tuesday. The former stars apprised him of the talent that they have seen over the past week and gave a resounding thumbs-up to the first Khelo India School Games.More than 70 past Arjuna Award winners, Dronacharya Awardees and Khel Ratnas were among the TIDC which had a meeting on Tuesday. The meeting was to take stock of the talent that has been seen since the start of the Games."The idea of having all these stalwarts watching these Games and focusing on young talent is that we have a strong pool of talent for the and leading up to the Olympics in 2024, 2028 and so on," Rathore said.
"The idea of the Khelo India School Games (KISG) is to make it aspirational and for youngsters to have regular competitions. They can come through School Games to College Games and so on till they get to Asian and Commonwealth Games and finally Olympics," he added."We will take on 538 athletes from these Games and another 462 will be added. But if our experts and TIDC tell us that there are more talented youngsters, we are open to adding to that number."Education and sport will go hand in hand for these youngsters.The list of legends in the TIDC includes the likes of 2000 Olympics women's weightlifting bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari, multiple world weightlifting champion Kunja Rani Devi, former hockey star Jagbir Singh, football legend I.M. Vijayan, current national boxing coach G.S. Sandhu and Olympian shooter Mansher Singh among others.
During the week, the likes of legendary athlete P.T. Usha and twice Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and many others have been around spotting and looking out for fresh talent.Malleswari, who was present at the weighlifting finals on Monday, said: "There is so much talent in weightlifting at the junior level, that it is unbelievable. I was amazed to see the hunger and the willingness to work hard and do well. If these children are given the right opportunity, they will most certainly become champions."Kunja Rani, who has won medals at every international event, barring the Olympics, where she came so close, added: "It is not just the north-east but the whole country. I wish we had events like Khelo India School Games for that would have given us a great start."Both Malleswari and Kunja Rani were happy to serve in the TIDC. "It was a pleasure to interact with these kids. Some of them come from a very humble background. If they get scholarships and an opportunity to study and play sport at the same time, they will develop into champions and excellent people," Kunja Rani said.