Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has clarified that special training will be provided to 200 elite athletes for the 2020 Olympics under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) programme, which was introduced in 2014. The programme focuses on training and rehabilitation process of athletes as well.
Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore looked determined to ensure that the Indian athletes got the best possible preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to be held in 2020. On Tuesday, he clarified that the government chose to train 200 elite athletes for the 2020 Olympics under its Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) programme, which was introduced in 2014.
"With just one and a half to two years left for the Tokyo Games, we are not only focusing on their training but also rehab if any athlete is injured," Rathore said, as quoted by TOI.
A former champion shooter himself, who won the double-trap silver at the 2004 Athens Games, Rathore has been well acquainted how the lack of infrastructure can shatter Olympic dreams and has hence made it sure that aspects like selection, funding, and infrastructure should be properly taken care of.
"From selection to funding, everything is managed by a set of people whom we have put under the TOPS. This team has high-performance directors, CEOs, athlete relationship managers, researchers who are finding details about athletes' toughest opponents in the top international circuit," said Rathore.
The emergence of a bunch of young champions and the terrific performance of India in the recently concluded Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where India finished third on the medals table, has elated Rathore who has been of the opinion that a sense of self-confidence has been the key to it.
“I think the self-confidence is building up. A sense of self-belief is building up. The athletes are feeding off each other and the whole environment in India is now feeding off itself," said Rathore.
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"This excellence is largely driven by individuals but it's also due to funding that is coming to them. The shooting federation is the highest funded federation. Among the 200 elite athletes, about 200 crore rupees ($29.70 million) have been provided to shooters alone, much more than any other federation. So, we are investing in it," observed the sports minister.
Apart from shooting, India has significantly improved in disciplines such as badminton, wrestling, boxing, and archery. Rathore has also given the credit to the TOPS team for identifying athletes in respective disciplines.
"We have identified the events that we will do well in and also the athletes who we are hoping will do well. I leave this job of identifying to the super professionals of the TOPS team and I have great respect for the work they are doing," concluded Rathore.