Eight track and field athletes, including Dutee Chand and KT Irfan, have been included in the core group of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme while seven others have been included in the TOPS developmental group, Sports Authority of India (SAI) informed on Sunday.
The decision, taken at the 50th MOC meeting held on November 26 to include athletes in the TOPS core group, was based on their performance progression and their qualification or high probability of qualification for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled next year, a SAI statement read.
Following performance review, nine athletes who are part of the TOPS scheme, have been retained including Neeraj Chopra, Hima Das and Tajinder Pal Singh Toor.
Triple Jumper Arpinder Singh was excluded from the TOPS scheme.
Athletes inducted into the TOPS scheme are: Shivpal Singh (Men’s Javelin Throw and qualified for Olympics), Annu Rani (Women’s Javelin Throw), KT Irfan (Men’s 20km walk and qualified for Olympics), Arokia Rajiv (Men’s 400m and 4x400m relay), Noah Nirmal Tom (Men’s 400m and 4x400m relay), Alex Anthony (Men’s 400m and 4x400m relay), MR Poovamma (Women’s 400m and 4x400m relay) and Dutee Chand (Women’s 100m and 200m). India earned an Olympic quota in the Mixed 4x400m relay at the 2019 World Championships.
Seven athletes included in TOPS developmental group are: Harsh Kumar (Men’s 400m and 4x400m relay), Veeramani Revathi (Women’s 400m and 4x400m relay), Vithya R (Women’s 400m and 4x400m relay), Tejaswin Shankar (Men’s High Jump), Shaili Singh (Women’s Long Jump), Sandra Babu (Women’s Triple Jump) and Harshita Sehrawat (Women’s Hammer Throw).
The TOPS scheme is a flagship program of the sports ministry which is an attempt to provide assistance to country’s top athletes.
As per the SAI website, the scheme looks to “add a premium to the preparations of these athletes so that they can win Olympic medals in 2020 and 2024 Olympics”.