The Sports Authority of India (SAI) announced today it had included four Olympic-bound Indian boxers — two men and two women — in the sports ministry’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).
World bronze-medallist Simranjeet Kaur (60 kg) and Asian medallist Pooja Rani (75 kg) have joined MC Mary Kom in the elite group.
Asian silver-winner Ashish Kumar (75 kg) and Asian Games bronze-winner Satish Kumar (+91 kg) have been included in a group which already featured Amit Panghal (52 kg), Manish Kaushik (63 kg), and Vikas Krishan (69 kg) among the Tokyo-bound boxers.
Lovlina Borgohain and Kavinder Singh Bisht are part of the core group of pugilists too.
The SAI said they have moved boxers Nikhat Zareen (51 kg), Sonia Chahal (57 kg) and Shiva Thapa (63 kg) to the TOPS Developmental Group.
Zareen participates in the same weight category as Mary Kom while Thapa competes with Kaushik for the 63kg slot.
The Target Olympic Podium Scheme is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and an attempt by the government to provide assistance to India’s top athletes. The scheme aims at adding a premium to the preparations of these athletes so that they can win Olympic medals in 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
Under the Scheme, the Department of Sports identifies athletes who are potential medal winners in 2020 / 2024 Olympics.
The idea of the scheme is to also keep an eye in the future and fund a Developmental Group of Athletes who are medal prospects for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles Games in 2028.
In order to realise India’s Olympic medal dream, the ministry established the Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS or TOP Scheme) in September 2014. To fulfil the objective of this scheme, the government constituted a committee (TOPS Elite Athletes’ Identification Committee) to identify the elite athletes who could achieve the Olympic podium.
The ministry is responsible for the appointment of TOPS members with an emphasis on ensuring representation from ‘high-priority’ sports (archery, badminton, boxing, hockey, shooting and wrestling) where the Indian record is better than that in other disciplines.