Eight para-athletes in four different sports have been included into the Target Olympic Podium Scheme, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) informed on Friday.
Discus Thrower Vinod Kumar, para-shuttlers Parul Parmar and Palak Kohli, para-shooter Rubina Francis and para-table tennis player Bhavina Patel are among the athletes included in the TOPS scheme, the decision of which was made at the 50th meeting of the Mission Olympic Cell on Thursday.
Apart from Vinod, who competes in F52 event, has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics at the World Championships, Praveen Kumar who has qualified for the Tokyo Games in Men’s High Jump T64 event, has also been included in the scheme as is Ajit Kumar Panchal who competes in the Men’s F52 Discus Throw event.
Meanwhile, Virender Dhankar, who competes in the Men’s Shot Put F57 event and Jayanti Behera who competes in the Women’s 400m F47 event, have been excluded from the scheme.
The women’s doubles para-badminton pair of Parul and Palak (SL3-SU5), who are currently ranked world number five in the Race to qualification for the Tokyo Paralympics, have been inducted into the TOPS scheme.
In shooting, apart from Rubina who competes in the Women’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 event, Siddharth Babu has been included in the scheme. Siddharth, who competes in the Men’s 50m Rifle Prone event, has already secured a quota for the Tokyo Paralympics.
Meanwhile, Deepender who competes in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 event, has been excluded from the scheme.
In para-table tennis, Bhavina, who is ranked eigtht in the world in the W-Class 4 event, has been included in the scheme. She has earned a quota for the Tokyo Paralympics and will be the first Indian to represent the country in para-table tennis at the Paralympics.
The TOPS scheme is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports which is an attempt to provide assistance to country’s top athletes.
As per the SAI website, the scheme looks to “add a premium to the preparations of these athletes so that they can win Olympic medals in 2020 and 2024 Olympics”.