Double Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar and India’s first Asian Games gold medallist heptathlete Swapna Barman were on Thursday dropped from the latest Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) which was revised keeping in mind the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Sushil, who won bronze and silver medals respectively in 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics in 66kg freestyle category, crashed out in his first qualification bout at this year’s Jakarta Asian Games in the 74kg and the latest result didn’t go in his favour.
Besides Sushil, another big name to have been dropped from the latest TOPS list, which was reviewed last in July 18 before the Asian Games, is Swapna, who created a flutter in Jakarta by becoming India’s first gold medallist in heptathlon.
Keeping an eye on 2020 and 2024 Olympics, the government’s Mission Olympic Cell on Thursday reviewed three sporting disciplines – athletics, wrestling and weightlifting.
In athletics, the number has been reduced from 31 to just 10, which includes two new faces in triple jumper Arpinder Singh and steeplechaser Avinash Sable, who will be supported till the 2019 World Championships.
Besides, star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, Seema Punia, Mohammad Anas, Hima Das, Ayyasamy Dharun, Jinson Johnson and Sreeshankar Murali are other athletes who have retained their places in the new TOPS list.
In addition to the above, the performances of Swapna, Manjit Singh (men’s 800m and 1500m), Tejaswin Shankar (men’s High Jump), Gavit Murali (men’s 10,000m and Beant Singh (men’s 800m) will be reviewed at the Asian Championships in April 2019.
In the revised 10-men wrestling list, Utkarsh Kale (men’s 57kg freestyle), Deepak Punia (men’s 86kg freestyle), Divya Kakran (women’s 68kg freestyle) and Sajan (men’s greco-roman 66kg) are the four new entrants, which also has star grapplers like Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat among others.
Besides, Naveen (men’s 57kg freestyle) and Vijay (men’s greco-roman 60kg) are being considered for the developmental group for the 2024 Olympics.
In weightlifting, the criteria for inclusion in TOPS was set at medal probable for women lifters and top 10 for men’s and on that basis Ragala Venkat Rahul (men’s 96kg) was included in the list while world champion Mirabai Chanu (women’s 49kg) was retained in the pruned chart.
Pardeep Singh (105kg) and Rakhi Halder (63kg) were dropped from the list while Achinta Sheuli (men’s 77kg), Jhili Dalabehera (women’s 49kg) and Jeremy Lalrinnunga (men’s 67kg) were being considered for the developmental group for the 2024 Olympics.
A SAI official, privy to the developments, hinted that it will be the end of the road for Sushil, if he fails to perform in his next international tournament in the new weight category.
The top official also said that Swapna was not included in the list as the standard of heptathlon in Asian Games in nowhere close to the world standard.
“The earlier TOPS list was till Asian Games and now we have reviewed three disciplines along with their national federations. All the decisions were made keeping in mind 2020 and 2024 Olympics,” the official told PTI.
“Sushil is nowhere near to his best in the 74kg category. All his Olympic medals came in 66kg. Unless he makes drastic improvements and produces results, it would be difficult for him to break into the list.
“On the other hand, we will be keeping a close watch on Swapna but the standard of heptathlon in Asian Games is no match for Olympics. The July list was till Asian Games and the current list is made targeting 2020 Olympics,” he added.
The SAI official also said that one by one other sporting disciplines will be reviewed in the coming days and the next in line are shooting and badminton, which are expected to be completed by the end of this month.
Resvised TOPS list of athletics, wrestling and weightlifting:
Athletics: Neeraj Chopra (men’s javelin throw), Tejinder Toor (men’s shot put), Seema Punia (women’s discus throw), Arpinder Singh (men’s triple jump), Mohammad Anas (men’s 400m), Hima Das (women’s 400m), Ayyasamy Dharun (men’s 400m hurdles), Jinson Johnson (men’s 800m and 1500m), Sreeshankar Murali (men’s long jump), Avinash Sable (men’s 3000m Steeplechase).
Wrestling: Sandeep Tomar (men’s 57kg freestyle), Utkarsh Kale (men’s 57kg freestyle), Bajrang Punia (men’s 65kg freestyle), Deepak Punia (men’s 86kg freestyle), Vinesh Phogat (women’s 50/53kg freestyle), Ritu Phogat (women’s 50/53kg freestyle), Pooja Dhanda (women’s 57kg freestyle), Sakshi Malik (women’s 62kg freestyle upto Asian Championships in 2019), Divya Kakran (women’s 68kg freestyle), Sajan (men’s greco-roman 77kg).
Weightlifting: Ragala Venkat Rahul (men’s 96kg), Mirabai Chanu (women’s 49kg).