Gail-Indian Speed Star: An initiative to promote athletics

By Somali K Chakrabarti


You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.

This is one of the most popular quotes of Swami Vivekananda. A healthy mind resides in healthy body and football or for that matter athletics are good sports to keep oneself fit.


Yet, athletics has received very little support and attention in India, both in terms of budget, and media coverage, which in turn has resulted in the lack of quality training and career prospects for the athletes.

Hence, it is not very surprising that the number of world class athletes from India has by far been very few as compared to other countries.


A few facts indicative of the state of Indian athletics:

India had first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900, with a lone athlete Norman Pritchard winning two silver medals in athletics. But, it was not before 1920 that India started sending its national team to compete at the Olympics.

Since then, the total number of medals won by India athletes in Olympics till date remains 26, a abysmally low number for a country with 1.3 billion population. With a history in athletics  dating back to the Vedic period, the situation certainly deserves to be better.

The recent selection of Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian Gymnast to qualify for Olympics has given impetus to our hopes.

GAIL-Indian Speedstar for Promotion of Athletics

Now, with promotion of nationally recognised sports, Paralympic sports and Olympic sports being considered as a CSR activity, companies are undertaking promotion of sports as CSR initiatives. We can be hopeful of an improvement in the state of athletics in India.

A case in the point is GAIL-Indian Speedstar, a grassroots athletics program launched by GAIL (India) Limited and National Yuva Cooperative Society (NYCS) on the 22nd of March, 2016 at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi. National Yuva Cooperative Society has tied up with Anglian Medal Hunt Company as its Technical Partner for The GAIL Indian Speedstar project.


Goal : To find and nurture young talent

With a goal

“To strengthen the sport of athletics and create a talent pool through which Indian athletics shines brightly at the 2020 Summer Olympics “

The program is aimed at unearthing and nurturing young talent across the length and breadth of India. The targeted age group is 11 – 17 years in 100m, 200m, and 800m track events across.

A panel of eminent sportspersons like P.T Usha, Rachita Mistry, AnuradhaBiswal & Kavita Raut have been appointed in the selection committee to support selections and guide coaching camps. As members of the selection committee their role would include creating the selection criteria or the GAIL-Indian Speedstar program, and developing the training plan and module for the selected athletes at the National Level.

Earlier this year with initial trials were conducted at 55 districts across 10 states in which more than 25,000 children participated out of which 850 children made it to the State level.


Camp and Selection

The first State level camp and trial was organized on 27-28th of February in SawaiMaan Singh Stadium, Jaipur where 60 boys and girls participated out of which 4 have qualified for the next level. The state trials were held in Odisha (14 Selection), Delhi (28 Selection), Kerala (28 Selection) &Jharkhand(4 Selection)followed by Maharashtra and Gujarat in the last week  of April.  The shortlisted children from the State trials will then participate in the National camp and selection which is scheduled to be held in May 2016 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. Shortlisted athletes from state trials will attend an intensive national level camp. At the conclusion of the coaching camp, final trials will be held. Winners will be selected based on the qualification criteria and their potential. The winners will be given extensive training throughout the year. The top 9 athletes will then be provided with a world class coaching for over a period of 5 years with an ultimate objective of one of these athletes to represent India at the Olympics.


With an initiative such as this, we hope to see many more sportspersons from India being groomed for bringing laurels to the country.

For participation, click on GAIL-Indian Speedstar

This post is written is an association with GAIL Indian Speedstar & IndiOne.
Image Credit: GAIL-Indian Speedstar

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  • Great Initiative for the boost of the sport like Athletics! Thanks for sharing this informative article and spreading positivity!

  • That’s an incredible initiative. Thanks for informing.

  • Excellent project by GAIL. Its large Corporations like this and Air India, ONGC, HPCL that nurture and promote potential champions. Nice to recognise this initiative in your blog. Good one Somali

    • Thank you Kamal ji. It is good that Govt has mandated CSR spending. Due to mandatory CSR and inclusion of national sports in the list of CSR activities more companies are taking interest in promoting sports other than cricket.

  • Somali I feel cricket has continued to overshadow over all other sports in India. There is a need to raise the awareness of fitness and sports. great initiative by GAIL!

  • Finally, India is waking up to other sports. Hope that this initiative gives wings to many athletic dreams.Thanks for sharing this useful information, Somali. Great job.

  • Praiseworthy initiative by GAIL. Sports in India, other than cricket, need lots of encouragements and sponsors to become world class. Nice post.

  • At the outset sorry for not being able to spend time here. It has been pretty hectic on the business front, hence not quite able balance the time this month.

    Yes, nothing can beat the thought that a healthy mind resides on a healthy body and we as nation has somehow kept ourselves away from the health spectrum. If we as country have to see a happy nation sports has to be an integral part of our life, just not at school or college but at corporate and people working in all other spheres. Olympic remains the pinnacle of sports achievement and the irony with a billion plus population our representation there is unquestionably minuscule. But last decade and primarily so in the last couple of years our sports has seen some fabulous achievement right from Badminton to Tennis and Archery to Shooting to Wrestling we have demonstrated our potential, it is matter of time that India representation reflects the true potential of the company. And in this endeavor the support of corporate houses like GAIL and organization in playing a significant role is without any doubt a major step forward and more such initiative can change the landscape. Indeed a very inspiring post and something we should all laud and promote the initiative of GAIL.

    So many lovely posts I could see, will be reading all your pending post from my side.
    Have a lovely weekend.

    • Thank you Nihar. In a country of 1.3 billion, the dearth of potential is unlikely. What is needed is to find the talent and groom them. That’s what such initiatives tend to accomplish. You too have a lovely weekend. :)

  • More organizations like GAIL (India) should come forward with such initiatives. We need them to find and nurture talents in athletics. Nice post, Somali… :-)

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