Sports ministry names Bindra, Gopichand, Rasquinha in eight-member task force

NEW DELHI: India's Sports ministry on Monday constituted a task force to prepare a detailed action plan for the next three Olympic Games. Sports Minister Vijay Goel said that PM Narendra Modi has approved the constitution of the eight-member committee, which includes India's lone individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, national badminton coach Pulella Gopichand and former India hockey captain Viren Rasquinha.

The tenure of the committee will be for three months or until the time it submits its report. Goel stated that the committee may invite other specific sports experts, if required.

The task force will suggest a comprehensive plan of action regarding India's participation at the next three Olympic Games, to be held in 2020, 2024 and 2028, which will include short-term, medium-term and long-term measures for effective results.

The other members of the committee are hockey coach S Baldev Singh, Sandeep Pradhan, DG Sports Authority of India Gujarat, Times Group Online chief editor Rajesh Kalra, Om Pathak from School Sports Promotion Foundation, and Prof GL Khanna of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Manav Rachna International University (Faridabad).

India sent its largest Olympic contingent to the 2016 Rio Games, following a record medal haul of six in London four years earlier, but returned with only two medals to its credit: a landmark silver from PV Sindhu and bronze to Sakshi Malik.

The three sportsmen on the panel come with plenty of pedigree. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Bindra made history by winning a gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle event and ended India's excruciating wait for an individual gold medalist at the Summer Games. It was also India's first Olympic yellow medal since 1980 when its men's hockey team returned home on a high.

Former All-England Open Championship winner Gopichand has in recent years become synonymous with success. Having coached Saina Nehwal to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, he oversaw Sindhu's stunning run to the final of the women's single badminton event in Rio last year, where she won a silver to outdo Saina's achievement from four years earlier. Since he retired from the sport, Gopichand has focussed his energies on scouting for young badminton talent who can raise India's flag globally.

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