No shortage of funds for athletes under TOPS: SAI

New Delhi: The Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General Neelam Kapoor has said that there is no shortage of funds for athletes who are under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

The scheme, which is in force since September 2018, is a flagship programme of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore-led Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) to provide assistance to the country’s top athletes in their preparations for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“The government is funding Rs 100 crore approximately for 2020 Olympics and there will be no shortage of funds for athletes who are under TOPS. This is the first step the SAI has ever taken to identify the talent and take care of their requirements. We want to give the best to our athletes,” DG SAI told reporters here on Saturday.

TOPS Secretariat works under the SAI Director General Neelam Kapoor and assists the Mission Olympics Cell. It has already moved to identify India’s top Olympic probable for Tokyo 2020 in Athletics (10), Shooting (16), Table Tennis (3), Tennis (2), Weightlifting (3) and Wrestling (10), with more sports disciplines to follow next month.

A team of professionals with management and sporting expertise has been formed by the SAI to oversee the functioning of the TOPS. Additionally, a development group of athletes is also under the consideration in all sports disciplines for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Three shooters-Sanjeev Rajput, Anish Bhanwala and Anjum Moudgil-who have excelled internationally while representing the country, remained amongst India’s top probables in the shooting for the 2020 Olympic Games.

“Right now, TOPS has prepared a list of India’s elite athletes who are in line for Olympics and are better medal prospects. TOPS is preparing to provide an ideal platform which is best for Olympic preparation,” Commonwealth Games gold medalist Anish Bhanwala told ANI.

“The way world-class athletes train themselves, TOPS is also trying to provide the same world-class facilities to Indian athletes. TOPS is helpful for an athlete that whatever things are needed be it coaching or training, it is available from TOPS,” added Bhanwala.

“I have seen how the team of TOPS has the data of all our competitions, competitors-be it international or domestic and what is the main age in which everyone is winning. Everything is in detail I never thought this much for my own self-having a team doing it from the government for athletes. I think it is a really positive step. I felt really happy seeing all the athletes who are under TOPS and those who are not under TOPS, are being kept under watch list,” World Cup silver medalist Anjum Moudgil told ANI.

“TOPS is observing them when they are peaking and when they are not, and looking into the reasons why and how they are not performing well. I think the government understands that there are reasons that really need to be worked on. It really motivates all the athletes,” added Moudgil.

All three of them were also part of TOPS for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and the support is being given to them through the scheme.

Asian Games silver medalist Sanjeev Rajput has got Rifle stock, accessories, ammunition support and out of the pocket allowance of Rs 50,000 per month for 10 months. Commonwealth Games gold medalist Anish Bhanwala has been provided with ammunition support and out of the pocket allowance of Rs 50,000 per month for four months.

World Cup silver medalist Anjum Moudgil has been given ammunition support, coaching fee of a personal coach, travel of personal coach to 2018 World Cup in Korea, and out of the pocket allowance of Rs 50,000 per month for 10 months.

The support under TOPS will continue to be supplementary to the annual calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) or other schemes of the MYAS. The quantum and nature of support will be as per relevant norms and decided by the TOPS Secretariat after discussing ‘Long Term Plan’ of every athlete with the concerned NSF, national coach, support staff and national observer.

The assistance provided to athlete covers essential items specific to their sports discipline like customised domestic and international training, international competitions, purchase of equipment, sports science, out of pocket allowance, and any other support specific to the sports discipline.

In addition to the funding, TOPS will also provide strategic support, mentorship, and career guidance through its team of mentors, experts, high-performance managers and researchers. TOPS had earlier also given assistance to Indian athletes towards their 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games preparations. The total TOPS funding across all sports disciplines was Rs 27.16 crore, which is exclusive of airfare and visa is given for
international training and competitions.

The sixteen shooters who have been shortlisted under TOPS this month include Ravi Kumar and Deepak Kumar for men’s 10m Air Rifle; Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan, Mehuli Ghosh and Anjum Moudgil for women’s 10m Air Rifle.

Moudgil has also been shortlisted for women’s 50m Rifle 3 Position, while Sanjeev Rajput for men’s 50m Rifle 3 Position; Abhishek Verma, Saurabh Chaudhary and Om Prakash Mitharwal for men’s 10m Air Pistol.

Manu Bhaker, who has been shortlisted for women’s 10m Air Pistol, has also been considered for 25m Pistol along with Rahi Sarnobat. Kynan Chenai and Lakshay Sheoran have been shortlisted for men’s Trap. Angad Veer Singh Bajwa and Anish Bhanwala have been shortlisted for men’s Skeet and men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol respectively.

Additionally, six more shooters are being considered under the development group for the 2024 Olympics. They are Hriday Hazarika and Divyansh Panwar for men’s 10m Air Rifle, Shreya Agrawal for women’s 10m Air Rifle, Aishwarya Pratap Tomar for men’s 50m Rifle 3 Position, Esha Singh for women’s 10m Air Pistol and Manisha Keer for women’s Trap.