Veteran shooter Tejaswini Sawant, young sensation Chinki Yadav, and top woman archer Deepika Kumari along with the men’s and women’s hockey teams have been included under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Thursday. Under the TOP scheme, SAI's Mission Olympic Cell included 15 athletes in five sports -- Shooting, Archery, Para-Athletics, Para-Archery, and Para-Badminton.
At the MOC meeting, the following athletes were selected:
i) Shooting: Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Mairaj Ahmed Khan, Tejaswini Sawant, Chinki Yadav
ii) Archery: Deepika Kumari, Ankita Bhakat, Bombayla Devi
iii) Para-Archery: Vivek Chikara, Harvinder Singh, Rakesh Kumar, Shyam Sundar
iv) Para-Athletics: Nishad Kumar, Ajeet Singh, Yogesh Kathuniya, T Mariyappan
v) Para-Badminton: Nagar Krishna
In addition to the above players, who were included in the core group, the committee has also included Indian men’s javelin throw athletes Shivpal Singh and Rohit Yadav in the developmental group.
The criteria for the selection of the athletes were as follows:
- Global performance trends from most recent Olympic Games, Paralympics, World Championships, Asian Games, and Asian Championships
- Performance of competing international counterparts (athletes) in the last three years
- High performance age of a typical Olympic medalist specific to each event
- Performance of Indian athletes in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and their progression chart
- Feedback from NSF, National Observers, High-Performance Managers, Project Officers and Coaches, wherever applicable
The committee has also taken the decision to exclude shooters Ravi Kumar and Om Prakash Mitharwal from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme due to their dipping performance graph. Boxer Neeraj Phogat has also been dropped from the TOP scheme due to her provisional suspension by NADA. Besides the inclusion of athletes, financial proposals of over Rs 40 lakhs were approved for athletes from shooting, table tennis, wrestling, and para-athletics. The TOP scheme is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports aimed to provide assistance to India’s top athletes.