Target Olympic Podium Scheme – The Scheme That TOPS !

Things are looking very rosy for sports in India. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) has come out with this pioneering initiative for the promotion of Olympic sports in India. The Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), under the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF), envisages the identification of athletes who are potential medal winners in Olympics and provides support to them in their preparation for Rio Olympics 2016.

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Abhinav Bindra: One of the Beneficiaries of TOPS

The athletes, selected by a committee which includes the likes of Rahul Dravid, Pullela Gopichand, Abhinav Bindra and MC Mary Kom, will be given specialized training under an eminent coach, better competition exposure and medical support. While training within the country, they will be provided a lump sum amount of INR 30,000 monthly. The Oriental Insurance Committee Limited (OICL) will provide insurance cover to the athletes. A total of Rs 30.075 crore has been set aside for the program, induction into which will be based on performance and consistency at recent international events.

Badminton supported by IIFCL for the TOPS

The India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL), will contribute Rs 30 crore for three years (Rs 10 crore per year) to support badminton in the TOPS scheme. Following is the planned contribution to Indian badminton stars : Saina Nehwal (allotted funds : 90 lakh ), PV Sindhu (90 lakh), P Kashyap (90 lakh), HS Prannoy (90 lakh), K Srikanth (90 lakh), Guru Saidutt (60 lakh) will benefit from the scheme. What comes as a godsend for singles’ players, however, unfortunately chose to ignore the doubles pairs.

As a result, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa have requested for inclusion into TOPS. Their names are still being considered.

Under the Scanner:

The country’s grapplers also suffered, as the Ministry refused to add the names of Mausam Khatri, Narsingh Yadav, Sandeep Tulsi Yadav, Geeta Phogat, Lalita Sehrawat, Sakshi Malik and Lalita to the program as per the requests of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). The ministry promised the inclusion of these athletes within the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF).

The decision will offer some welcome solace to the fans of the sport, as wrestlers like Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Amit Kumar Dahiya, , Sandeep Tomar, Bajrang, Vinesh, Satyavrat Kadiyan and Babita have already been selected.

The scheme to ensure specialized training, better exposure and medical support supposed to commence in January, failed to kick off after rebellion from within the group of 75 athletes. As per the scheme, the beneficiaries were not allowed to enter into alliance with private sponsors after March 1 without prior consent from the NSDF. However, the union government amended certain clauses after the issue sparked off debates, allowing athletes to maintain professional ties with private organisations that currently provide them with technical and monetary support.

“Until the Rio Olympics, existing association arrangement with sponsors and donor agencies other than the National Sports Development Fund (the government arm which will provide the funds under the TOP scheme) as on March 1, 2015 can continue,” the ministry clarified.

Here’s a list of athletes selected for the initiative:

Athletics:
Vikas Gowda (men’s discus throw , allotted Rs. 1.12 cr) , Seema Antil (women’s discus throw, allotted Rs. 75 lakh) Arpinder Singh (men’s triple jump, allotted Rs 45 lakh), Khushbir Kaur (women’s 20km race walking, allotted Rs 45 lakh) and K.T. Irfan (men’s 20km racewalking , allotted Rs. 45 lakh).

Badminton:
Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, P. Kashyap, K. Srikanth (allotted Rs. 90 lakh each) , Gurusaidutt and H.S. Prannoy (allotted Rs. 60 lakh each).

Boxing:
M.C. Mary Kom (in women’s 51kg), Sarita Devi (in women’s 60kg), Vijender Singh (in men’s 75kg), Devendro Singh (in men’s 49kg) allotted Rs. 75 lakh each, Pinki Jangra (in women’s 51kg), Shiva Thapa (in men’s 56kg), Mandeep Jangra (in men’s 60kg), Vikas Krishan (in men’s 75kg) allotted Rs. 45 lakh each.

Shooting:
Abhinav Bindra (in men’s 10m air rifle), Gagan Narang (in men’s 50m rifle prone), Sanjeev Rajput (in men’s 50m rifle 3 positions), Manavjit Sandhu (in men’s trap) allotted Rs. 1.12 cr each, Heena Sindhu (in women’s 10m air rifle), Jitu Rai (in men’s 10m air pistol and 50m free pistol), P.N. Prakash (in men’s 10m air pistol), Vijay Kumar (in men’s 25m rapid fire pistol) allotted Rs. 75 lakh each, Ayonika Paul (in women’s 10m air rifle), Apurvi Chandela (in women’s 10m air rifle), Ankur Mittal and Mohammad Asab (in men’s double trap), Kynan Chenai (in men’s trap) allotted Rs. 60 lakh each, Shweta Chaudhary and Malaika Goel (both in women’s 10m air pistol), Rahi Sarnobat and Anisa Sayyed (both in women’s 25m sports pistol) allotted Rs. 45 lakh each.

Wrestling:
Sushil Kumar (in men’s freestyle 74kg), Yogeshwar Dutt (in men’s freestyle 66kg), Amit Kumar (in men’s freestyle 57kg) allotted Rs. 75 lakh each, Bajrang (in men’s freestyle 66kg), Rahul Aware (in men’s freestyle 57kg), Babita Kumari (in women’s 53kg) and Vinesh Phogat (in women’s 48kg) allotted Rs. 45 lakh each.

Sailing:
Varsha Gautam and Aishwarya Neduncheziyan (in 49erFX team) allotted Rs. 45 lakh each.

Conclusion

With big names like Tintu Luka not making it to the list, the initiative, though definitely transformational has also drawn a lot of flak. We, at Sports Rediscovered, just hope that the ministry looks into the issues and sorts things out before it is too late. Here’s hoping the medals start pouring in!




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