Sports minister sees India as a top−10 nation by 2020

New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) The union sports ministry is working on a plan to make India a top−10 sporting nation by 2020 and the first step in that direction is to double the budget for training athletes.

New Sports Minister Jitendra Singh told IANS that he was keen on carrying forward the good work done by his predecessor Ajay Maken and promised all possible support to the country's top athletes.

"Ajay Maken did a great job as sports minister and I am going to take that forward. Not only we are looking at providing better facilities to our top athletes preparing for major events like the Olympics and at the same time our focus will also be on finding the talented youngsters and nurturing them," said the sports minister here Saturday.

The ministry spent Rs.678 crore for the athletes' training ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Rs.260 crore for the London Olympics. The support helped India to put up their best−ever performance in the two Games.

Sports Secretary P.K. Deb, who accompanied the minister on his rounds of the various stadiums created for the Commonwealth Games, told IANS that the ministry was looking at an raising the allocation to Rs.250 crore a year from the current Rs.125 crore.

"The budget for athletes will be almost double of what it is right now. We are just waiting for the approval of the finance ministry. Our target is to be amongst the top−10 sporting nations of the world. Doing well in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games the same year and in other major events is part of the plan for the 2020 goal," said Deb.

"Half of the money will be spent at the junior and sub−junior levels," he added.

Maken had earlier set a target of 25 medals in the 2020 Summer Games.

India had bagged a record two silver medals and four bronze at the London Olympics earlier this year.

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