The primordial truth that accompanies or rules all humans is that the one who falters has always tried to get up — and that is as good as a success. Participants from the famous learning hub of Odisha, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) have pitchforked several talents to the Tokyo Olympics. Some of them had a close brush with success, yet could not make it to the podium finish.
But, the world for them has not stopped there. For Dutee Chand, Shivpal Singh or C A Bhavani Devi, time and age is on their side and who knows, they may throw up a surprise tomorrow. The good fight is a calculus that measures efforts, and results are often left to the day and the luck. Nothing is irreversible.
The spirit behind all that is said and done, is the invincible man of gumption, Dr Achyuta Samanta, Founder, KIIT and KISS who has always remained a silent guardian does not believe in quits or exits but, in repeat efforts.
KIIT has yet again shot its fame to the orbit, and this time, in a first, extolling its students from the university to the pulpit like the Tokyo Olympics. This is the first-ever feat that any university in India has been able to send three athletes and a doctor of medicine to the Olympics. Chand spearheads the list with Devi and Singh. Dr Sudeep Satpathy goes as the only official doctor.
The Rock Pillar: In a remarkable feat, that may make many Indians proud and it is an exciting moment for the founder. Dr Samanta is an eminent educationist and social activist who shares the major credit of being the spirit behind all that shines on the horizon today. He has remained a strong persona advocating, from his early days in Bhubaneswar, that education and sports are intensely interlinked. Besides KIIT his other brainchild, KISS has remained behind such promotions and Dr Samanta has been a rock pillar taking on all the headwinds of time.
The two institutions have a world-class sports infrastructure and have produced more than 5,000 sports talents in over 30 disciplines, who have participated at the state, national and international levels. It is a rare achievement to produce so many sports talents in a single place. KIIT and KISS students have been representing India and Odisha regularly at international and national level sports meets, including Olympics, Asian and Commonwealth Games, for several years.
What stands out is the mentoring of an athlete like Chand, who hardly requires any introduction, who was on the tracks in Tokyo for the second consecutive time. She qualified for two exciting events — the 100 m and 200 m on the basis of her world ranking. Had it not been the support from Dr Samanta, Chand would not have been there.
Success and failures are part of the game and some say failures are often followed by victory. So the boys and girls can repeat the past in the days to come. An Arjuna Awardee athlete and national record holder in 100 m with a time of 11.17 seconds, the highlight of her career is winning two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games. She is the only Indian to participate in two events twice in Olympics.
Devi, who is pursuing a PhD at KIIT, is the first Indian fencer to ever qualify for the Olympics. She secured qualification in the women’s sabre event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics through the Adjusted Olympic Rankings, following the World Cup in Hungary. Ranked 42 in the world, she made history by becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal at the Senior Commonwealth Fencing Championship in Australia in 2018 in the sabre event.
Javelin thrower, Singh, a BBA student at KIIT, qualified for his maiden Olympic Games by breaching the qualification mark with a throw of 85.47m at the ACNW League Meeting in South Africa. The throw also earned him the Gold Medal at the event.
The same can be said of the attempts by the other participants who conquered over their hurdles and have won laurels for the country.
In another proud achievement for KIIT, Dr Satpathy of Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) was selected as the doctor of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team for the Tokyo Olympics. A specialist in Clinical Physiology including Sports and Exercise Physiology, Dr Satpathy has had numerous Olympic involvements in the past, including Sports Medicine Doctor in the 2016 Rio Olympics and Athletes Park, looking after emergency and sports medicine clinics.
Education and sports on a mission mode: The sky is the limit now that the founder has made strenuous efforts towards the creation of state-of-the-art sports infrastructure in one place, which includes 16 sports complexes, an international standard floodlight cricket stadium, which can accommodate 20,000 people, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) approved athletic synthetic track; multi-purpose indoor stadium having the capacity to conduct six different games at a time; Fédération Internationale de Hockey approved hockey stadium (astroturf and floodlights with 5,000 seating capacity); 15 practice (25 m x 15 m) and one Olympic size (50 m x 25 m) swimming pool. It also has six sports villages to facilitate mega sports meets on the campus.
KIIT has also been significantly contributing to the promotion of rugby and chess at the national level for over a decade. Rugby has been a popular game in foreign countries, but it is only now gaining currency in India.
Undeniably, KIIT and KISS have become the groundswell not only for education but for extracurricular activities as well and Dr Samanta's doggedness has gone miles to turn these hubs into crucibles of academics and sports.