Reliance Foundation Odisha HPC Aims To Produce Olympic Medal Winners

Bhubaneswar: The Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High Performance Centre (HPC) hopes to produce medallists at the 2026 Youth Olympics and 2032 Olympics.

“We are working towards developing this HPC into the most innovative High-Performance Athletics Centre in Asia,” says head coach James Hillier. “It will create a sustainable development and support system to identify, nurture and maximize the potential of athletes from grassroots to elite level. Our marquee nationwide grassroots development initiative Reliance Foundation Youth Sports, which saw participation from 30,000 athletes in 2019-20, is also being used as a primary scouting platform for the HPC.”

In less than a year since it began active operations, athletes training at HPC have produced encouraging results at national level competitions. They bagged two gold and a bronze at the Junior National championships in Vijayawada in November 2019, followed by 10 gold, 8 silver and 7 bronze medals at the Odisha state championships in Cuttack a month later.

In January 2020, athletes from HPC clinched 4 gold, 3 sliver and 6 bronze medals at the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) National championships in Mumbai.

A collaboration between the Odisha government and Reliance Foundation, the HPC was set up to improve the standard of athletics in the state and produce home-grown achievers.

HPC head coach James Hillier

“We have ambitious plans to produce a home-grown Youth Olympic medallist and a home-grown Olympic Games winner in the future. While winning is a long-term goal, the HPC is focusing on the journey, the strategy and the holistic development of the player that involves an integrated approach, a combination of physical, mental and psychological training,” Hillier said.

To ensure the athletes have a clearly defined path towards progress, the HPC has split operations between a ‘Monitoring Cohort’ and ‘Academy’.

Athletes in the Monitoring Cohort are in the age group of 13 to 17 and identified as being a maximum of 5 years away from winning a national level medal. Twenty athletes from all over Odisha are currently in this group and reside at the Bhubaneswar state sports hostel.

Athletes in the Academy group are 16 years or older and identified at various stages of development — from being two years away from winning a national level medal to those with established international credentials.

There are 7 such athletes (4 from Odisha) at the HPC academy currently, who live at Kalinga Stadium. Nine more athletes (7 for monitoring cohort and 2 for the academy) from the state have been identified for the training programme after a selection camp held in in February.

“Odisha has the foundation of a really successful sports system. The government is incredibly proactive and willing to invest in good people to create a performance system that allows talented athletes to flourish,” says Hillier.

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