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Bihar’s Sports Transformation: From Lagging Behind to Olympics

The unexpected selection of Shreyashi Singh for the Olympics has brought immense pride to Bihar, showcasing the state’s emerging talent under the dedicated efforts of IPS officer Raveendran Sankaran.
Indian Masterminds Stories

The Indian men’s cricket team has made the nation proud by clinching the T20 World Cup, ending a decade-long drought. With this triumphant victory behind them, the focus now shifts to the upcoming Olympics, set to commence on July 26th. Over 100 athletes have qualified to represent India on this prestigious international stage. Among them is Ms. Shreyashi Singh, a talented trap shooter from Bihar. Her unexpected selection has brought joy and pride to her home state, which had been eyeing success in the 2028 Olympics.

This success is the result of the vision of 1995 batch and Bihar cadre IPS officer and Director General cum CEO of the Bihar State Sports Authority, Mr. Raveendran Sankaran, who has been committed to reviving the state’s sports legacy. Bihar, once lagging in sports, is now experiencing a positive transformation. In recent years, Bihar organized two sports conclaves and developed a plan to rebuild its sports heritage. Remarkably, the state jumped from 30th to 14th place in the National School Games. The state’s sub-junior kabaddi team defeated Haryana in a competition held in Madurai this year. For the first time in 30-35 years, a boy from Bihar was part of the Indian team at the World Championship in Argentina. Additionally, five athletes from Bihar – four boys and one girl – represented India at the Asian Games in China, where Mr. Shailesh Kumar won a gold medal. 

IPS Raveendran Sankaran
IPS Raveendran Sankaran (Right)

Mr. Raveendran Sankaran who also serves as ADG of the Bihar Military Police took charge of BSSA around two years ago. Under his leadership, Bihar has shifted its focus from building large infrastructures and organizing big events to talent scouting. Collaborating with veterans and Dronacharyas like P. Gopichand, Kunji Rani Devi, and Sreedhran, various camps have been held to identify and nurture talent in weightlifting, volleyball, archery, athletics, and badminton.

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Raveendran Sankaran expressed his pride and happiness at Ms. Shreyashi Singh’s selection, stating, “We are happy and proud with the selection of Ms. Singh, but it isn’t the goal. We will continue our preparation until Bihar carves a special place in sports.”

In addition to Ms. Singh, Shailesh Kumar, who won a gold medal at the Asian Games, is expected to be selected for the Paralympics, and Mr. Raveendran is hopeful that he will bring home a medal as well. In this exclusive video interview, Mr. Raveendran discusses the selections of Ms. Singh and Mr. Kumar, his plans to revive other sports in Bihar, including kabaddi, and his reasons for focusing on lesser-known games.

Link here: 

FOCUSING ON LESSER KNOWN GAMES 

As states like Haryana is doing great in wrestling and kabaddi, and Kerala and Tamil Nadu are champions in volleyball, it leave a very tough spot for any other to enter these sports and conquer. But, it is not impossible, Mr. Sankaran said confidently, adding that it will require another 5-6 years to reach that level. Under his leadership, Bihar has opted for a different approach. It is focusing more on games like rugby, wushu, sepak takraw (volleyball played with feet and head), jujitsu, dragon boat, etc. These games might not be popular but are part of various national games, Asian Games and even Olympics. The strategy has worked, as Bihar is already a champion in rugby, in sub-junior boys and girls and junior boys and girls. 

“Medal is a medal, whether it comes from a popular or unpopular game. If we win a medal, we automatically rise in the tally,” Mr. Sankaran said. He further informed that they are focusing more on individual games rather than team games. The number of medals and events in a team game is less. Whereas, in athletics, wushu, cycling, swimming, weightlifting and other such games, there are more events due to the weight category and, hence, chances of winning medal is also high.


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