Shillong could become a high altitude training centre for athletes and developed as such, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju, said today on his visit to the state capital.
Rijiju was here to inaugurate the new synthetic athletic track and artificial football ground at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Training Centre on the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) campus. He also formally opened the new girls’ hostel belonging to the centre and then launched the new avatar of the Assam Rifles Public School (ARPS) in Laitkor, which has been converted into a dedicated sports school under the Khelo India scheme.
“This place is not very high in terms of altitude but sufficient enough to be declared as a high altitude training centre,” Rijiju said at SAI. “This is very appropriate and this can be a permanent location. Normally, high altitude training centres are temporary in nature but this location is very appropriate to be a permanent centre to train certain athletes.”
With thinner air, high altitude locations are favoured for training athletes, such as long distance runners.
Besides Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram could also be used as high altitude centres, he added.
Meanwhile, the minister also said that he expects 25-30 percent of India’s medallists in the Olympic Games to come from the North East. He reminded the audience that the country aims to be in the top 10 in terms of medals by the 2028 Games and to do this the country will need to identify talent while athletes are still at a young age.
Later, Rijiju launched ARPS (Sports) in Laitkor. This is the first Khelo India Sports School in the North East.
The central government will now bear the expenses of 100 students identified by SAI for training in athletics, archery and fencing. The objective of a Khelo India Sports School is to integrate sports with education and, in the process, develop sports in the country and improve the overall profile and outlook of athletes. This will also help in the identification and upliftment of talent from North Eastern, rural and tribal areas.
“It is a historic beginning of a journey for the Assam Rifles Public School and this Khelo India sports centre will be nurturing young boys and girls, who will in the long run bring medals from the Olympics,” Rijiju stated.
ARPS was designated as a sports school because of its good track record in academics and sports, adequate boarding and hostel accommodation, sufficient space to develop sports facilities and inclination to develop Olympic sports under an inter-ministerial partnership between the Union Ministries of Youth Affairs and Sports and Home Affairs.
“I’m sure anything associated with Assam Rifles is bound to succeed. Congratulations to the entire Assam Rifles family and my best wishes to the Principal, the faculty members of the school and, more importantly, the students,” he said.
He concluded his address with an assurance to provide top-class SAI coaches and more funds will be provided for enhancing the facilities to international standards.