Govt launches TOPS for junior athletes, shortlists 258 young talent in 12 Olympic disciplines | More sports News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday launched the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) for the country’s promising junior athletes, with an aim to groom these young talents for medal glory at the 2024 and 2028 Olympics.
The government, in a series of decisions, also decided that training of athletes at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) ‘National Centre of Excellence’ (NCOE) will begin in a phased manner from October 1, 2020. This has been done to bring athletes back to on-field training in view of the unlocking of the country following the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown.
SAI’s ‘Mission Olympic Cell’ (MOC) has shortlisted 258 athletes in 12 sporting disciplines for TOPS Junior, including the 85 selected before the lockdown, who will be part of the ‘Developmental Group’. The selected athletes will receive a monthly ‘Out Of Pocket’ allowance of Rs 25,000. Of the 12 disciplines, 70 athletes have been shortlisted in shooting, 16 in athletics, 34 in archery, 27 in badminton, four in cycling, seven in table tennis, 14 in swimming, 11 in judo, 36 in boxing, 16 in weightlifting, five in rowing and 18 in wrestling. The list of athletes will be available on the SAI’s website.
During a review meeting of the MOC held on Wednesday, Sports minister Kiren Rijiju stated: “Establishing Junior TOPS and extending support to the developmental group is a critical measure to realise India’s dream of being among the top-10 countries in the 2028 Olympics. It takes eight years to groom an athlete into an Olympic medal probable and we have started right on time for the 2028 Olympics.”
The formal induction of the athletes in the development group would be undertaken after setting an effective monitoring mechanism for an athlete’s progress in the long run, SAI said in a statement. Towards this, it has been decided that performance benchmarks will be established for individual athletes for next four years, in consultation with all stakeholders, including the athlete, coach, High Performance Directors/ Chief National Coach of national sports federations (NSFs). The training support to the TOPS Developmental Group will be extended in each discipline through a group/systems approach, and a monthly allowance of Rs 25,000 will be given to every athlete.
Last month, Rijiju had informed that the government will soon launch the TOPS Junior with an aim to produce Olympic champions by 2028. Rijiju had announced the decision during the ‘Fit Hai To Hit Hai Fit India’ webinar, which was attended by HRD minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal, Olympic medallist shuttler PV Sindhu and India football captain Sunil Chhetri. He had said the government will identify 10 to 12-year-old talents and adopt them.
Rijiju, during the meeting, also announced the phased resumption of training for athletes at the SAI’s NCOE from October 1. However, keeping in mind the health and safety of athletes and coaches, the covid-19 situation in the state where the NCOE is located will be considered while finalisation.
In view of the preparation for Olympics and, to ensure that athletes have world-class infrastructure and equipment to train with, it has also been decided that the funds extended to all SAI NCOEs will be enhanced. “Funds will be provided to upgrade existing infrastructure and equipment or procure new ones, as per the need of athletes. We are ready to provide all support needed to ensure that athletes in India have the best facilities at par with the world,” the minister said.
In another decision, to ensure a safe environment for all athletes, especially those joining the camps in their teenage years, a series of sensitisation workshops will be held in SAI NCOEs on various subjects. It has been decided to increase these awareness workshops including workshops on sexual harassment act with aim to make athletes aware of sexual harassment issues and about the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and motivate them to speak up against any form of harassment.

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