Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said the central government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) has developed India’s sporting excellence across disciplines.
The TOP scheme began under the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYAS) in 2014 and was boosted in 2018 to improve India’s medal hunt at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and beyond. “TOPS has been a very successful programme. It has been able to plug the gaps in the elite and development athletes’ training and competition calendars,” Thakur told Sportstar.
Thakur said the sports ministry has also constituted an athlete-centric Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) under Sports Authority of India (SAI) to “oversee all critical matters pertaining to our elite sportspersons.”
In January 2022, the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC), under the MYAS, added 10 athletes to raise the TOPS tally to 301 athletes, with 107 in the Core Group. India’s Tokyo Olympic medallists Mirabai Chanu, PV Sindhu and Neeraj Chopra have been the key beneficiaries of this scheme over the years.
“TOPS stepped in when Mirabai Chanu needed to travel to St. Louis in the United States at short notice before the Olympic Games. It was managed inside a day so that she could leave before the U.S. stopped flights originating in India. Another example is Neeraj Chopra being flown to Chula Vista so that he could return to training without any distractions and prepare for the World Athletics Championships,” said Thakur.
Thakur also said the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) has been vital in the working of TOPS across disciplines. “The NSDF Scheme of our Ministry supports TOPS for our core and development athletes. A substantial part of the training and competition schedule for the athletes is supported by the ministry’s assistance to the National Sports Federations under the Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) scheme. The gaps, if any, are taken care of by TOPS,” he added.