In a major boost for para-sports, 12 high-performing para-athletes, including Asiad gold-winner Sharad Kumar, were Wednesday included in the revised Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) list.
In all, four disciplines under para-sports were reviewed — para-athletics, para-shooting, para-swimming and para-powerlifting.
According to a Sports Authority of India (SAI) release, the athletes were chosen for the TOPS keeping in view the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
In para-athletics, double Para Asiad gold medallist Sharad Kumar (Men’s High Jump T63 42,63), Varun Bhati (Men’s High Jump T63 42,63), Sandeep Chaudhary (Men’s Javelin Throw F64 42-44, 61-64), Sumit (Men’s Javelin Throw F64 42-44, 61-64), Sundar Singh Gurjar (Men’s Javelin F46 45-46), Rinku (Men’s Javelin F46 45-46), Amit Saroha (Men’s Club Throw F51), Virender (Men’s Shotput F57 56-57) and Jayanti Behera (Women’s 400m T47 45-47) found a place in the latest list.
The selection criteria for para-athletics was the current world rankings of the athletes and their most recent scores that were being attained in comparison to global best standards.
The TOPS list was revised at a meeting of SAI’s Mission Olympic Cell chaired by its Director General Neelam Kapur, in which 23 athletes were selected from badminton, cycling and para-sports.
Some athletes have been included in the developmental group for Olympic 2024, and a watchlist has also been prepared from among athletes competing in badminton, para-athletics, para-shooting, para-swimming and para-powerlifting.
Athletes who are in the watchlist will be considered for TOPS on the basis of their performance in the coming months.
They were chosen after detailed analysis and in consultation with the National Sports Federations (NSFs).
The athletes who were kept on watchlist will be closely monitored and in this period, they will be supported through the Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) for camps and exposure tournaments.
In para-shooting, Manish Narwal, Singhraj (both Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 and Mixed 50m Pistol SH1), Deepender (Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1) and Avani Lekhara (will be reviewed at World Championships) have been selected.
In addition, Rubina Francis, Pooja Aggarwal, Sonia Sharma are on the watchlist.
Eight para-swimmers and six para-powerlifters have been kept in the watchlist and performance of the latter group will be reviewed at the World Para Powerlifting Championships in July.
Para-powerlifting athletes who are on the watchlist are Jaideep, Sachin Chaudhary, Manpreet Kaur, Rajinder Singh Rahelu, Sakina Khatun and Farman Basha.
Suyash Narayan Jadhav, Niranjan Mukundan, Swapnil Patil, Chetan Giridhar Raut, Shridhar Nagappa Malagi, Devanshi Satija, Kanchanmala Pande and Sharath Gayakwad are the para-swimmers who are on the watchlist.
The performance of Indian shuttlers were also reviewed during the meeting and it was decided to include Kidambi Srikanth (Men’s Singles), Sameer Verma (Men’s Singles), HS Prannoy (Men’s Singles), PV Sindhu (Women’s Singles) and Saina Nehwal (Women’s Singles) till the 2020 Tokyo Games.
But B SAI Praneeth and Lakshya Sen have been left out of the revised list.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty (Men’s Doubles), Ashwini Ponappa and Siki Reddy (Women’s Doubles), Pranav Chopra and Siki Reddy (Mixed Doubles) were included in the list till the World Championships.
In addition, the shuttlers who have been kept on the watchlist are Manu Attri, Sumeeth Reddy (Men’s Doubles); Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha Ram (Women’s Doubles).
Cycling is another discipline which came up for discussion on Wednesday and given India’s improved performances in the recent past at the junior level, four athletes were picked in the developmental group for the 2024 Olympics.
India recently won 10 medals at the Junior Asian Track Cycling Championships. The decision to select these cyclists was made taking into consideration their personal best timings, which are superior to those recorded by many top cyclists including those who have been Olympic medalists when they participated at a junior level.
The cyclists shortlisted in the developmental group are Esow Alben, Ronaldo Singh, James Singh and Rojit Singh (all team sprint).
During the meeting, the committee also cleared the financial proposals related to the equipment and ammunition requirements of a few Indian shooters for their preparation for the upcoming ISSF World Cup here.