India Inc India Inc: Tuesday, 24 July 2012 11:21

Special Report: The business of sport

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mittal-trustAs the 2012 London Olympic Games kick off in London, the India global story is all set for its own goal. The Mittal Champions Trust was set up in 2005 with an investment of $10 million by steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

It unveiled 15 of its promising young sports men and women gearing up for big returns in the form of medals in the coming days.

The trust was the brainchild of business tycoon Amit Bhatia to nurture raw Indian talent for international fixtures. Alongside Indian tennis champion Mahesh Bhupathi, he has been spearheading this mission to promote potential medal winners in sports such as wrestling, boxing, athletics, shooting and archery.

At an event in Hyde Park this week, the founder of the trust set out his reasons behind funding this sporty initiative.

“After the Athens Olympics, there was this over-riding sense of disappointment that for a populist nation such as India we had only one medal winner. That’s when Mr Mittal (ArcelorMittal chairman and CEO) offered his pioneering vision to fund Indian sport at a world class level. Since then, the dedication and commitment of our champions has resulted in a 50 per cent qualification rate for the Olympics this year. We wish them all the luck,” said Bhatia, who is also vice-chairman of Queen’s Park Rangers football club.

The Mittal Champions Trust constitutes a rigorous panel of experts who act as talent spotters at district, state and national level in India. It nurtures the talent of each athlete, from nutrition and physiotherapy to special equipment and world-class coaching needs.

Bhupathi explained: “Every athlete dreams about competing in the Olympics and this is my fifth. But every year it was the same story in terms of medals. It was time to take the bull by its horns and the Mittal Trust has made this dream a reality.”

Trust CEO and former tennis player Manisha Malhotra added: “Often it is about a gut feeling and the result speaks for itself. We have 11 first-timers who have qualified for the Games this year and they all have immense talent to deliver.”

by Aditi Khanna

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