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Over 100 athletes removed from government's TOPS list till 2020 Olympics

The Olympic Podium Scheme has removed a large number of players to focus on potential medal winners in the near future.

News 27 Aug 2017, 04:24 IST

Abhinav Bindra is the head of the TOPS committee

Abhinav Bindra is the head of the TOPS committee

What's the story?

The Target Olympic Podium Scheme(TOPS) committee has struck down 107 athletes from its list of 152 athletes who were supposed to get funding and assistance till the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The updated 45 player list comprises of no tennis players, rowers and swimmers as the TOPS athletes identification committee has seemed to have gone hard on not so worthy sportspeople. The committee plans to bring in more but fresher faces to the scheme who might be in greater need of funding from the Government of India, according to a report in the Indian Express.

In case you didn't know

150 plus athletes received funding under the TOPS scheme for Rio Olympics last year. However, the medal outcome did not reflect upon it as both Government and the athletes were criticized for improper implementation and planning. The new 10-member panel is being headed by Abhinav Bindra and includes PT Usha and Prakash Padukone, among others.

The new list also includes three squash players even though squash isn't an Olympic sport for the 2020 edition. This reflects on the intent of overall development of Indian sports by the committee. These three players will be funded till the Asian Games next year. Since, the list was made before the IAAF World Championships 2017, it does not include Davinder Singh who was the only finalist from India in the tournament in the men's javelin throw.

The heart of the matter

Even though the total amount spent on athletes under the TOPS scheme for 2016 Rio Olympics was 36.85 crores, the Indian contingent could land only two medals, with the Sports ministry to blame as well.

TOPS is an initiative launched two years back to cover up for fees of personal coaches and other support staff, cost of travel and stay during competition and training stints, as well as purchase of equipment. The committee wants to judge athletes by their latest performance as compared to the world standards when they apply for funding under TOPS. The committee has recommended that the athletes prove their medical fitness by submitting their medical records twice every year.

What's next?

The new committee has been set up keeping in mind the upcoming Asian Games and Olympic Games and is trying to do its job efficiently. It plans to include totally unknown athletes with high potential who are really in need of support and exclude any athlete going complacent in his/her performance.

The inclusion of Shapath Bhardwaj and Sachin Siwach shows that TOPS is investing in very young athletes who can turn out to be medal winners in the long run.

Author's take

The move by the committee seems good but it should also make sure that no deserving athlete is left out in the process. It should also work for the upliftment of sportspeople from the grassroots level.

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