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More steel for Joshna
Times of India : 9/10/2005

India’s top squash player Joshna Chinappa (left) with badminton champion Pullela Gopichand at the launch of the Mittal Champions Trust at the Hilton Towers.


This seems like one steely resolve to improve the state of Indian sport.

India-born and Londonbased steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who was last year in the news for his daughter Vanisha’s lavish wedding in France, on Tuesday gave another example of his openhandedness when he announced the launch of the Mittal Champions Trust.

Set up in order to identify, support and enhance the performance of young Indian sportsmen, the trust will invest Rs 40 crore to provide a set of chosen youngsters with the highest quality training for their respective sports.

The sportsmen will be identified from three age brackets: 10-12, 13-17 & 17 and above. The plan is to focus on sports where there is a paucity of funds. The first beneficiary of this endeavour is teen squash sensation Joshna Chinappa.

The athletes will be selected by an advisory board comprising shuttler P Gopi Chand and athlete Bobby George. Rahul Dravid, captain of the Indian cricket team, is one of the trustees. The trust plans to take on all sports-related expenses of the athlete which include training, competitions, fitness and nutritional requirements.

Tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi, who approached Mittal with this proposal after the US Open, said, “For starters, we’re looking at sports like athletics, squash, boxing, swimming and archery.’’

He added that the trust is planning to rope in about 10 sportspersons with the option to hike the number.


Joshna first beneficiary of Lakshmi Mittal's initiative
The Hindu : 9/10/2005 


NOBLE INITIATIVE: Mahesh Bhupathi, Joshna Chinappa, Aviation Minister Mr. Praful Patel and Lakshmi Mittal at the press conference.

Mumbai: London based steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, the third richest man in the world after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, announced the institution of a Rs. 40 crore `Mittal Champions Trust' here on Tuesday. Young squash star Joshna Chinappa, who was present at the launch of the trust, is the first beneficiary of this initiative.

The 54-year-old Mittal's ambition is to assist young, talented and ambitious sportspersons win medals at the 2012 Summer Olympiad in his home town of London or even before that at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, the Olympic Games at Beijing in 2008 and also major international events.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Mittal said, "I went to Athens to see the Olympics last year and was excited by the performances, but was disappointed to see India languishing at the bottom. When Lithuania can win medals why not India?

"There are many districts in India and I am sure there's plenty of talent to be tapped there. Someone like M.S. Dhoni has emerged from Jharakand. I hope more Indian corporates would start similar initiatives to support Indian sports. We will do our best, train athletes in India or abroad in order to achieve excellence in sports," said Mr. Mittal.

Nine-time doubles Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupathi met Mr. Mittal at the All England Tennis Club last June as a result of which the trust modalities were completed with a catch phrase, "India's first trust dedicated to win medals and prestige for Indian sport".

Advisory board

An advisory board consisting of former All England badminton champion P. Gopichand, athletics coach Bobby George and F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan has been constituted. They will spot talent in the age group of 10-12, 13-17 and 17 and above, advise on training and travel schedules and groom them. Bhupathi's Globosport will manage the select sportspersons — initially 10.

"There is no age limit. If someone has the potential to win medals at 26 or 27 we will support him or her," said Bhupathi.

Congratulating Mr. Mittal, the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Mr. Praful Patel, said cricket has received maximum patronage in independent India and was happy that Mr. Mittal had decided to support sportspersons.

"He's the third richest man in the world. I hope he becomes the richest man so that he will be able to support sports in India in a much bigger way."

India's cricket captain Rahul Dravid is one of the trustees on the board, apart from Messrs. L.N. Mittal, Aditya Mittal (L.N. Mittal's son), Amit Bhatia (son-in-law) and Mahesh Bhupathi. "We will get a different perspective from Rahul, that's why he's in the trustee board," said Mr. Mittal.


'I'm gunning for gold... no stopping me now!
Mid-day : 9/10/2005

Only last week, India’s squash hope Joshna Chinappa had expressed her regret, as she spoke to Mid Day (November 5), about dearth of sponsorships in squash.

“Only cricket and tennis sell here” is what she had said when asked what she thought about the future prospects of the sport in India.

But little did she know that Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and Chief Executive of Mittal Steel, the world’s largest steel company and India’s tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi were already in the process of launching the Mittal Champions Trust — a non-profit trust set up with the ultimate goal of improving India’s performance at major global events.

And working on its core function — to scout for and promote sporting talent in the country — Mittal Champions Trust yesterday rightly signed on its first athlete, Joshna Chinappa.

“There’s no stopping me now,” the talented 19-year-old from Chennai said. “Earlier it was tough going abroad and training. But now hopefully things should be much simpler,” she said.

Joshna now plans to go to Amsterdam to train under her coach and former world number two Liz Irwin. “Irwin has been a fantastic inspiration for me. Being a world champ she knows what it takes to get to the top,” Joshna pointed out.

Another realistic goal for Joshna now is gold at the Doha Asiad 2006. And the current world number 60 does not think it’s a tough ask. “I have two main rivals in the international circuit — Nicole David of Malaysia and Rebecca Chau of Honk Kong.

“Of the two, Nicole is the sharper player, and to my fortune, she also trains under the same coach as me. So this has given me the rare chance to view her very closely and understand her game, so as to try and beat her,” she said.

Besides, Joshna and Nicole are good friends thanks to a native connection. So Joshna feels she might just have the edge in the finale.

“Nicole’s great grandfather is from my native place, Chennai. So that gets us even closer. And if it boils down to the two of us in a grand finale, I think I can clinch gold, although it can be anyone’s game,” Joshna summed up.


Mittal’s Olympic dream is worth Rs. 40 crore
DNA, Mumbai, 9 november 2005

Sets up Champions trust for nurturing promising Indian sporting talent. 

Lakshmi N Mittal is known the world over as a steel tycoon. On Tuesday, he revealed a steely resolve for a different kind of quest.

The London-based businessman pledged a whopping Rs. 40 crore to the Mittal Champion Trust. The money is not going towards adding corporate addresses to his large empire; it aims to put Indians on the sporting map of the world. 

Like always, Mittal, along with India’s established champions – trustees Mahesh Bhupati, Rahul Dravid, Amit Bhatia and advisors P Gopi Chand and Bobby Gearge – is thinking big. 

Olympic medals and Asian Games glory is paramount on their minds. For them, the 2012 London Olympics is the culmination of their plans. The strategy is simple – 10 promising youngsters, starting with ace squash player Joshna  chinappa, will be picked and nothing will be spared to make them world beaters. 

The need for doing more of Indian sport struck the world’s richest Indian when he witnessed the Athens Olympics. He was moved by the inspiring performances, but disappointment that India came back with only one medal – shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s silver.   


Multiple Grand Slam winner Mahesh Bhupati, managing director of Globosport (a sports and entertainment management company) rekindled the businessman’s passion for sport when he approached him in London in July. Four months down the line. The trust is up and running. 

“I hope other industrial houses take a cue from what we are doing and do more for sports in India,” Mittal said on Tuesday. 

For joshna, who entered the senior circuit this year, the signing-up could not have come at a better time. “I am ranked no.60 (Seniors) in the world now. This is my first full-year in the senior circuit and hence I have to play a lot of tournaments that will generate points and boost my ranking,” Joshna said. Amsterdam will become the squash player’s second home come January, where she will go to train under former World No.2 Liz Irwing. “Asian games gold will be my next big target,” she said. 

Others who have made a name for themselves are also in discussions with the trust. “We are looking at billiards and snooker champion Pankaj Advani and swimmer Shikha Tandon. Four athletes are also being short-listed,” Bhupathi said.

Plan of action 

  • Rs. 40 cr marked for the Mittal Champions Trust.

  • Work with all sports associations

  • Provide training to selected athletes in India and abroad, with focus on Olympic sports.

  • Board of advisors along with sportspersons and their families will chart out career plans.

  • Trust will cover all sports-related expenses, including training and nutritional expenses

  • Criteria for selection will be performance, results, drive, commitment and potential

  • Medals at Doha Asian Games, Bejing Olympics and 2012 London games are target.


Article in Times of India, Bombay Times : 10/10/2005


 ‘Sponsors should think beyond profit’
Hindustan times, Mumbai, 8 november 2005

Industrialist Lakshmi Mittal (Right) with his wife Usha and Tennis player Mahesh Bhupati at the announcement of the Mittal Champions Trust in Mumbai


Steel Magnate Lakshmi Mittal urges corporates to do more for Indian sport 

STEEL MAGNATE Lakshmi Mittal said during the launch of the Mittal Champions Trust here on Tuesday that those sponsoring sports must look beyond profits. 

“You can never create awareness if you think only about profits,” Mittal the world’s third richest man, said. “I feel more sponsors will come in when they see our sportsperson, not just cricketers but a variety of athletes, shine in world sport.” 

Mittal, who lives in London and in the UK’s wealthiest individual said his companies regularly sponsored sport. He recalled he had provided support to the badminton-playing Gandhi brothers from Pune – Ajay and Nitin – in the 80s. 

“They went to Indonesia for training and returned better players,” he said. “Those days it was difficult to get into badminton programs in Indonesia.” 

All England badminton 2001 champion P Gopichand, longjumper Anju Geaorge’s husband Bobby George and Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan were present at the launch. Also in attendance were tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi, who thought of the Trust in the first place, and promising squash player Joshna Chinappa, recipient of the first Champions Trust scholarship. 

“This has happened at the right time for me,” the 19-year-old Joshna, ranked number two in the juniors, said. “I will be playing the seniors circuit from next year. I plan to play about 15 tournaments and would like to train for extended periods under Liz Irving (former Australian star) in Amsterdam. If not for the trust, it wouldn’t have been possible.” 

Joshna is a contender for a medal at next year’s Asian Games in Doha, where squash makes its debut. 

“Nicole David (Malaysia) and Rebecca Chilu (Hong Kong) will be the main hurdles in Doha,” she said. “I want to train and play as much as I can. Ideally, I should spend six weeks in Amsterdam before each major event.” 

Joshna, ranked number 60 in the seniors, said that she had outgrown the coaching options in India and that many of the world’s top-10 players played at Irving’s center in Holland.

“Besides,” she added, “It is easy to travel to and from tournaments if you are based in Amsterdam. Chennai (where she is from) involves too much traveling.” 

Gopi and Bobby were grateful for the Champions Trust, which plans to allot nearly Rs 40 crore for the nourishment of Indian sport.

“A good amount of money is going into the project, which makes it financially stable,” Gopi said. 

Bobby, asked if Indian athletes were genetically of lower speed and strength than those from developed nations, said, “It is easy to sit at home and pass judgments, but that is a myth. Indians reached two track and field finals at the Athens Olympics (Anju in the long jump and the women’s 4X400m relay team). Once you participate with them, you realize they are not superhuman. You lose the inhibition. For example, whenever Anju travels to a world meet now, she feels as if she is visiting a family get-together.”


Steel King to fuel India’s gold quest
Hindustan Times, Mumbai, 9th November 2005

P. Gopichand and Mahesh Bhupati flank Joshna Chinappa, the first beneficiary of the Trust

LAKSHMI MITTAL, the richest Indian in the world and chairman of Mittal Steel, announced the launch of the Mittal Champions Trust here on Tuesday.

The Trust will invest Rs. 40 crore in Indian athletes (from three age groups: 10-12, 13-17, 17 and above). The objective, conceptualized by tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi, is to improve India’s performance at global sporting events, starting with the Asian Games 2006 and peaking at the 2012 Olympics in London. “I was in Athens during the Olympics and it saddened me to see India at the bottom of the table,” Mittal said. “If Lithuania can win a medal, India should win a handful.” The athletes will be chosen by a board comprising Bobby George (long jumper Anju george’s husband and coach)

Bhupathi,  who had taken his idea to 40 Corporate leaders in India with little success, sought a meeting with the London- based Mittal during this year’s Wimbledon. “He asked me to send him a blueprint, which I did. He liked it. I stopped in London on my way to US Open and we finalized the agreement,” said Bhupathi.

The board of trustees comprises Mittal, Aditya Mittal, Amit Bhatia, Bhupathi and Rahul Dravid. Tennis player Manisha Malhotra will be the administrator of the trust and look after its day-today operation.

The trust will pick 10 athletes. The first beneficiary is squash player Joshna Chinappa (19). Athletes who sign on will have to pay it 15 per cent of their endorsement earnings (not prize money) as long as they are with the trust. The amount will go back to the trust.

Now, squash gets a boost
Indian express, November 8 

Two Indian sportswomen who do not answer to the name of Sania Mirza will now attract endorsements, thanks to visible talent, sure promise, and some enterprising corporate support. 

Squash teen-queen Joshna Chinappa, and Dipika Pallikal have been taken aboard two separate talent promoting entries, ensuring the all important financial inflow and performance permitting – even future brand management. 

Fourteen-year-old Dipika, who was on a roll at the Western India Open reaching three finals and pocketing both the under-15 and under-19 titles, will now be managed by Showdiff, the talent and event management company, jointly floated in early 2004 by Rediffusion and ex-cricketer Ravi shastri. The initial contract, finalized on Friday, has been signed for a year, and subject to mutual satisfaction, will be extended further.

“Showdiff will facilitate endorsements, but importantly will also help out with other aspects of managing her squash career, which is headed in the right direction,” Susan Pallikal, Dipika’s mother said. 

Joshna chinappa, who has catapulted Indian women’s squash single handedly on the world stage, by winning the British Junior open and making it to the final of the World Juniors, will meanwhile benefit from being taken aboard the Lakshmi Mittal Foundation. “The formal announcement is expected in some days, but I am excited since I’ll get to meet him personally,” Joshna said. 

The 19-year-old player, ranked 61 in the world, had battled a dearth of sponsorships an hence restricted her appearances on the professional WISPA circuit (Playing just 3 tourneys, finishing runners-up in one) till the appearance in the World Juniors final this year. Funding trickled in from a few enthusiasts, but was never enough to play the higher- graded squash tournaments, which are conducted across the world. “I’ll really get onto the circuit full-time next year,” she said. 

Looking fitter, despite the two months away from the courts since the WISPA meet in Kuwait, Joshna is training hard on physical fitness, before she goes full blast in 2006. “I’m not upto scratch in my on-court training, but I’ll start soon. I also plan to go on month-long sessions in the future at Amsterdam,” she said. 

The gaping gap between India’s top junior and the next best Dipika Pallikal has not deterred corporates from approaching the precocious teenager, who has already modeled for a leading bank brand. Perched on the top of the rankings in Europe in her age-section, Dipika earlier created a flutter beating India’s second seeded senior Dr Deepali Anwekar Parikh at CCI, and as the contract indicates, looks a promising bet for the future. 

Mittal Champions Trust to support Joshna 

Mittal chapiojns Trust – which was launched on Tuesday – announced that they have signed Joshna  Chinappa as the first athlete in its fold. Announcing the signing up of Joshna at a media conference, Lakshmi Mittal – the chairman and chief executive of the world’s global leader in steel ‘Mittal Steel – said the main aim of the trust was to “identify, support and enhance” the performance of talented young Indian sportsmen and women. 

“We have set up a corpus of Rs. 40 crore for the purpose. I was inspired by what I saw in last year’s Olympic Games in Greece and was at the same time dismayed by the Indian performance,” Mittal said. Tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi – one of the trustees – said: “The ultimate goal of the non profit trust is to improve the performance of India at major global sporting events, starting with the Asian Games in 2006, followed by the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 Asian Games in London.” 

The trustees board also has in its ranks India Captain Rahul Dravid, Lakshmi Mittal, A Mittal and Amit Bhatia while former all England badminton champion Pullela Gopichand and ace woman long jumper Anju Bobby George are on its advisory board. 

“The youngsters would be identified from three different age brackets, 17 and above, 13-17 and 10-12,” the tennis star said, but added that in specific games the upper age limit can go up if needed. (ENS)