Now, a Vijaynagar kingdom of sports
One August afternoon, a large number of youngsters, all aged between 12 and 19, are going hard at practice. Inside the auditorium, there is a thud as a girl, maybe 13 or 14 years old, slams another to the mat. To the left, a trainer explains grappling techniques to one of his wards, while a handful of boys climb ropes up to at least 12 feet, all on the power of their own limbs. To the right, pairs of boys and girls take measured swings at each other — with protective gear, of course — in a ring, while others spar outside it.
The auditorium — the combat sports hall — is part of a 42acre campus nestled in the redsand hills of Vijaynagar, a town in northern Karnataka that bears the name of the Vijayanagara empire of Krishnadevaraya, who ruled most of south India in the early 16th century from Hampi, just 30km away.
The Inspire Institute of Sport, built and run by JSW Sports, is located in the BellaryHospet iron ore belt that is dominated by the JSW Group. Adjacent to the JSW Group’s Vidyanagar township, it is In dia’s first privately funded highperformance sports training institute. The aim: to send the country’s young athletes to the Olympic Games.
Parth Jindal, IIS’S founder and the director of JSW Sports, says the spark was Abhinav Bindra’s gold medal in the 10m air rifle event at the 200■ Beijing Olympics. “It had been countless years since ‘Jana Gana Mana’ had even played at the Olympic Games. But in 200■, on that day, in Beijing, it played, and we all cried. The dream of IIS is to make that moment repeat itself numerous times over and we can feel proud that India is not only rising as an economic powerhouse, but is rising as a sporting powerhouse,” he said at the inauguration ceremony on India’s 72nd Independence Day.
The aim of the IIS is to create an environment where no talented athlete is deprived of success because of a lack of resources, infrastructure or training support, Jindal said. So, the JSW Sports team planned extensively and conducted onground research sufficient to build an institute such as this.
“We visited some of the top facilities in the world, got an understanding of how they went about the business of producing elite athletes. Yes, we have learned from the best. We’ve tried to incorporate all the best practices. And we continue to pick on what’s hap
pening globally so