Srinagar, May 22 (PTI) The Sports Ministry on Saturday decided to add training facilities for kayaking and canoeing at the Khelo India State Centre of Excellence (KISCE) here to promote the two watersports in Jammu and Kashmir.
The J&K Sports Council and the state government had made a request to include these two sporting disciplines.
The KISCE, which was launched in April after revamping facilities in the existing J&K Water Sports Academy, already has training facilities for rowing.
'The performance of athletes from the state in kayaking and canoeing have been impressive in international competitions such as the World Championships and the Asian Championship,' Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said in a release.
'It has been decided to equip the KISCE in Srinagar with training facilities for the two disciplines so that more sporting talent from the state have the opportunity to excel in the sport and represent India in world-class competition.' The Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Sports Council of J&K will assess the requirements to implement training in the two disciplines, including coaching and equipment support to be added.
Speaking about the development, Lieutenant Governor of J&K Manoj Sinha said, 'We want to ensure maximum utilisation of the KISCE in Srinagar so that more athletes can be trained here.
'The addition of these two sporting disciplines will enable greater participation and also draw sporting talent from other states to train here. I am happy that the Sports Ministry and the state Government have worked together to make this possible.' The endeavour has been welcomed by senior athletes and sports administrators alike.
Speaking about the importance of this decision, Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association secretary general Prashant Khushwaha said, 'kayaking, canoeing and rowing together have a total of 63 medals in Olympics. If we can provide training to youngsters in these disciplines, India's medal haul in Olympics can go up significantly.
'The equipment of these sports are expensive and support through the Khelo India Scheme will be really beneficial. Kashmir is a strategic location for the academy since the weather matches with European countries where most competitions are held. This is a great step towards improving water sports in India.' International-level kayak from the state, Bilquis Mir said, 'The decision to have the KISCE in Srinagar has historic significance. I have been attached to water sports for 21 years and it is for the first time that so much has been done to provide proper training facilities in the state.
'The launch of the KISCE and now the inclusion of kayaking and canoeing will enthuse young athletes of the sport and I am sure we will be able to attain a podium finish in the Olympics in the years to come.' PTI PDS PDS AH AH