The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has approved the names of 23 athletes, including shuttlers PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth, from badminton, cycling, para-athletics and para-shooting fields, to be included in the flagship Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Paralympics and 2024 Olympics.
Some athletes have been included in the developmental group for Olympic 2024, and a watch-list was also announced from among athletes competing in badminton, para-athletics, para-shooting, para-swimming and para-power lifting.
Athletes who are in the watch-list will be considered for TOPS on the basis of their performance in the coming months.
The Target Olympic Podium Scheme is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to provide assistance to India’s top athletes.
Players selected in the badminton category include Kidambi Srikanth (Men’s Singles), Sameer Verma (Men’s Singles), HS Prannoy (Men’s Singles), PV Sindhu (Women’s Singles), Saina Nehwal (Women’s Singles), Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty (Men’s Doubles), Ashwini Ponappa and Siki Reddy (Women’s doubles) (Till World Championships) and Pranav Chopra and Siki Reddy (Mixed doubles) (Till World Championships).
In addition, Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy (Men’s Doubles), Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha Ram (Women’s Doubles) have been kept on the watch list.
In cycling, players that are chosen for the scheme are Esow Alben, Ronaldo Singh, James Singh, and Rojit Singh (all team sprint).
For the four disciplines under Para-Sports that were reviewed, the Committee chose those athletes under the TOPS schemes who are considered the best medal contenders for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
The selection criteria applied for Para-Athletics were the current world rankings of the athletes and their most recent scores that were being attained in comparison to global best standards.
Those selected include Varun Bhati (Men’s High Jump T63 (42,63), Sharad Kumar (Men’s High Jump T63 (42,63), Sandeep Chaudhary (Men’s Javelin Throw F64 (42-44, 61-64), Sumit (Men’s Javelin Throw F64 (42-44, 61-64), Sundar Singh Gurjar (Men’s Javelin F46 (45-46), Rinku (Men’s Javelin F46 (45-46), Amit Saroha (Men’s Club Throw F51), Virender (Men’s Shotput F57 (56-57) and Jayanti Behera (Women’s 400m T47 (45-47)
Those put on watchlist are Mariyappan Thangavelu, Deepa Malik, Devendra Jhajharia, Sandeep Singh Mann, Mithan, Aamit, Rampal Chahar, Dharambir, Ekta Bhyan, Karamjyoti Dalal, Radha and Rakshita.
In Para Shooting, the athletes included for the TOPS scheme are Manish Narwal and Singhraj (Both Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 and Mixed 50m Pistol SH1), Deepender (Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1) and Avani Lekhara (Will be reviewed at World Championships).
In the watchlist, names like Rubina Francis, Pooja Aggarwal and Sonia Sharma are included.
While para powerlifting watchlist include Jaideep, Sachin Chaudhary, Manpreet Kaur, Rajinder Singh Rahelu, Sakina Khatun and Farman Basha, Para Swimming watchlist have names of Suyash Narayan Jadhav, Niranjan Mukundan, Swapnil Patil, Chetan Giridhar Raut, Shridhar Nagappa Malagi, Devanshi Satija, Kanchanmala Pande and Sharath Gayakwad.