In a first-of-its kind move, the Ministry of Sports has decided to create 20 National Centres of Excellence (NCE) with top-of-the-line coaches will train athletes in the developmental group keeping 2024 Paris and 2028 Los Angeles Olympics in mind.

The NCEs will have the distinction of having a single scheme running in them for elite athletes, thus ending differentiation in training and other facilities between athletes within the same campus.

Each NCE will be earmarked for four to six specific sport.

It will be moving away from the earlier set-up of having various schemes running in the same SAI regional centres, leading to separate training, diet and kitting to athletes, this scheme will ensure that athletes in the same premises have access to similar facilities.

The decision comes just a few months after it was announced that the budget for diet of athletes will be made equal, irrespective of the level at which the athlete is training.

While the National Centre of Excellence will be reserved for athletes training for Olympics, grassroot level athletes will be trained at other SAI facilities and will be moved to NCE depending on performance and possibility of an Olympic medal.

The two-tier training system will ensure that at both levels athletes get focused training.

The 20 SAI facilities that have been identified as National Centre of Excellence include, SAI centres in Patiala, Trivandrum, Chandigarh, Sonepat, Lucknow, Guwahati, Imphal, Kolkata, Bhopal, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Gandhinagar, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi, Indira Gandhi Stadium, Delhi, Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Delhi, Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range, Delhi, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee Swimming Pool Complex, Delhi, National Water Sports Academy (Khelo India), Alleppey, National Boxing Academy (Khelo India), Rohtak, National Wrestling Academy (Khelo India), Aurangabad.

Speaking about the decision, sports minister Kiren Rijiju said: “Standardising the training on a campus will enable athletes to attain much higher performances in their respective sport.

“When athletes of the same level train at a centre and the facilities are made exclusively available to them, they will train better and that will reflect in their performance. We are working in close co-ordination with NSFs to ensure a smooth transition of our existing facilities into National Centre of Excellence and to identify more centres.