OAI eyes welfare of past & present Olympians

New Delhi: With the aim to look after the welfare of past and current athletes, the Olympics Association of India (OAI) was on Monday launched by former Olympic silver medallist and junior Information and Broadcasting minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore here. Founded by five-time Olympian Shiva Keshavan (luge) as its president, the organisation boasts of acclaimed stars like former India hockey captain Viren Rasquinha as vice president, Malav Shroff (sailing) as general secretary and Adille Sumariwalla (athletics) as treasurer. Other important office bearers comprise Ashwini Nachappa (athletics), Saina Nehwal (badminton), Hakimuddin Habibulla (swimming) and MC Mary Kom (boxing), Rathore, Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, bronze medal winners Yogeshwar Dutt, London bronze medallist Gagan Narang and Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh among others.  The OAI proposes to look after the welfare of former and current Olympians through their careers and beyond and is the first and only non-profit organisation by Olympians for Olympians in the country. It is directly affiliated to the World Olympians Association (WOA) under the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  IOC member and Athletes Commission chairperson Claudia Bokel along with World Olympians Association treasurer, and IOC Athletes Commission Member Patrick Singleton also came out in full support of the event. The OAI has drawn a roadmap of their plans which will see the development of athletes through various schemes, including education and skill development, health insurance and pension, mentorship of young athletes, legal advice and IOC athletes career programme.  It will also create awareness through an outreach programme that will require getting involved with every Indian Olympian and working with each of them. Rathore, who clinched the silver in the men's Double Trap at Athens in 2004, hailed it as a great initiative before launching the official website.  "It is an organisation which is formed by Olympians for the Olympians. The brains behind this great initiative are all very accomplished Olympians and a single platform like this to join all the Olympians around the country is a huge step towards sports in this country," he said. All Indian Olympians will be registered members and will contribute for the cause and at the same time mutually benefit from projects initiated by the OAI.