Eight young shooters including Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary were on Thursday included in the Target Olympic Scheme (TOPS) along with two tennis players and three paddlers, keeping in mind the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The TOPS offers a monthly financial support of Rs 50,000 to the selected athletes.
“The performance of potential athletes was reviewed in the context of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It was also decided to extend support towards a specific developmental group for the 2024 Olympics,” a Sports Authority of India (SAI) release said.
Both Bhaker (women’s 10m air pistol) and Chaudhary (men’s 10m air pistol) had won gold medals at the recent Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As many as 16 shooters made the cut, including Mehuli Ghosh (women’s 10m air rifle), Anish Bhanwala (men’s 25m rapid fire pistol) Elavenil Valarivan (women’s 10m air rifle), Lakshay Sheoran (men’s trap) and veteran Sanjeev Rajput (men’s 50m rifle 3 position).
Ravi Kumar (Men’s 10m Air Rifle), Deepak Kumar (Men’s 10m Air Rifle, Apurvi Chandela (Women’s 10m Air Rifle), Anjum Moudgil (women’s 10m Air Rifle and Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Position), Abhishek Verma (Men’s 10m Air Pistol), Om Prakash Mitharwal (Men’s 10m Air Pistol), Rahi Sarnobat (Women’s 25m Pistol), Kynan Chenai ( Men’s Trap), and Angad Veer Singh Bajwa (Men’s Skeet) were the other shooters to figure in the list.
Additionally, six shooters are being considered under the development group for the 2024 Olympics. They are: Hriday Hazarika (Men’s 10m Air Rifle), Divyansh Panwar (Men’s 10m Air Rifle), Shreya Agrawal (Women’s 10m Air Rifle), Aishwarya Pratap Tomar (Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Position), Esha Singh (Women’s 10m Air Pistol), Manisha Keer (Women’s Trap).
“There was an intense deliberation over the inclusion of Heena Sidhu and Jitu Rai in the scheme. The committee post the discussion agreed to keep them on a watchlist along with a few other athletes, and it was decided to take a call on their inclusion in the scheme, post the World Cup in February 2019 to be held in New Delhi,” the release added.
The Asian Games gold medallists Divij Sharan and Rohan Bopanna were the only tennis players named in latest TOPS list. “The committee also decided that Sania Mirza could be considered for inclusion at a later date for Mixed Doubles depending on her plans to recommence training,” the release added.
Paddler Manika Batra along with Achanta Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan were also included. Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath were selected under the developmental group for the 2024 Olympics.
The committee also sanctioned an amount of Rs. 8.75 lakhs for 25 days of training for star wrestler Bajrang Punia in Georgia ahead of the Asian Championships along with his coach, fitness trainer and sparring partner.