In a significant development, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and Sports Authority of India (SAI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with world athletics body International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to set up a 'Centre of Excellence' at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. (Read more sports stories here)
The agreement was signed during just-elected IAAF president Sebastian Coe's two-day visit to India to meet the top brass of the national federation and Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
"We have discussed a lot of issues on development of athletics in India. We have also decided to work together with SAI and IAAF and the AFI to try and set up a Centre of Excellence here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. We have signed a letter of intent for that," AFI president Adille Sumariwalla told reporters.
Confirming the development, Director General SAI Injeti Srinivas said he expects the Centre to be operational in three months time. "As mentioned by the AFI president today morning we have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the IAAF where we intent to set up a Centre of Excellence for athletics in
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with residential facility and IAAF has very kindly agreed to provide technical support particularly in the coaching department," he said.
"And with regard to talent identification and other activities AFI and SAI will do it in partnership and the catchment area will be the entire country.
"We are still working out the details. Hopefully, in 2 to 3 months we should be able to set up the Centre," Srinivas added.
Former Olympic middle-distance champion Coe said that he identified India as one of the key players in the development of athletics. "I see India playing a very central role in the development of athletics in years to come. If a country is to meet its athletic ambitions nationally and internationally then it clearly needs a number of things in place. It needs good facilities, it needs the right kind of infrastructure, it needs very talented athletes and we need more young people," said the 59-year-old former British track and field athlete, who won 1,500m gold at 1980 Moscow Olympics and the 1984 Los Angeles Games.