Bhopal: Sports Authority of India (SAI) is set to launch the national academy for medium and long distance races here on December 23, its Director General Jiji Thomson said on Thursday.
Thomson also expressed confidence that the country will clinch 10 to 12 medals at 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.
He said that out of three academies SAI had proposed to promote athletics, one sprints and jump academy was inaugurated at Thiruvananthapuram on September 22 while another for throws will come up at Rohtak shortly.
"Third one -- National Athletics Academy (Medium and Long Distance Race) is expected to start at Bhopal on December 23," he said.
Thomson said that SAI national academies are also proposed for archery, boxing, football, golf, hockey, shooting, volley ball and wrestling.
On India's prospects at Rio Olympics, he said, "India won only six medals at London Olympics 2012 but we are hopeful of winning 10 to 12 medals in 2016."
He said SAI was hopeful the country will bag medals in wrestling, shooting, archery, weightlifting, badminton and boxing.
"Besides, we are right now playing good hockey and except a medal as well," he added.
Thomson said Indian players were working hard to achieve the target at the upcoming Olympics.
"Modern facilities and high standard training has been provided to players at the SAI's centre at Bhopal, Bangalore and Kolkata and other places.
"Apart from these six games (wrestling, shooting, archery, weightlifting, badminton and boxing), we do not have world-class players in other sports but we are preparing players in these sports and eyeing medals in cycling, athletics, gymnastic, and swimming at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in Japan," he added.
He said SAI will also establish a modern sports science centre in the Madhya Pradesh capital, similar to those in Patiala and Bangalore.
SAI has also started an Elite Distance Running Programme (EDRP) at the capital of Madhya Pradesh.
For its EDRP programme SAI has joined hands with the Athletics Federation of India, MP Athletics Association and sports events promoters Procam International, said a media release today following the press conference held in Bhopal.
Also present at the press conference was Hugo Van Den
Broek, head coach from Global Sports Communication (GSC) which is also involved in the project "to promote middle and long distance running at the grassroots for Indian athletes."
"Procam, SAI and Global Sports Communication (GSC) have come together to encourage and nurture Indian athletes and provide them professional training and international exposure in order to compete at the highest level," the release said.
Global Sports Communication is an organisation that represents around 120 expert athletes from 20 different countries.
As part of the EDRP, the process of identification and selection of raw talent got underway in August this leading to shortlisting of 30-40 athletes based on their timings in the New Delhi half marathon event for advanced training at the SAI Academy in Bhopal.
Twenty-nine of the selected athletes made it to the camp and have been undergoing specific training under Dutch long-distance runner and marathon specialist Van Den Broek since December 8.
At the end of this special purpose camp, 10-12 men and women are to be selected for training at a high altitude camp within India and 5 to 6 selected athletes comprising the EDRP Elite Team would travel to Africa with Global Sports Communication (GSC), the release added.