Weightlifting Federation of India on Thursday said that the inclusion of three more lifters in the Sports Ministry’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) is very encouraging for the athletes ahead of the Asian Games and other international events.

The government handed extensions to Sanjita Chanu and Pardeep Singh, who were originally in the TOP Scheme, only till the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG). Sanjita defended her 53kg category gold at the Gold Coast in April, while Singh won silver in the men’s 105 kg category.

Another young prospect Rakhi Halder was included in the Scheme after she created a national record in the 63 kg at the Senior National Championships in Mangalore.

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She had lifted 128 kg in clean and jerk to break the 19-year-old record, which was in the name of 2000 Olympic bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari.

“We are happy at the inclusion of the three weightlifters in the TOP Scheme. The weightlifters performed really well in the CWG. Otherwise, also the sport is on the rise. In this context, the ministry’s decision will help our lifters doing better in the events coming ahead,” IWLF Secretary General Sahdev Yadav said.

World champion Mirabai Chanu (women’s 48kg) continued to be in the TOPS list, while Ragala V. Rahul (men’s 85kg), Punam Yadav (women’s 69kg) and Satish Sivalingam (men’s 77kg) — all the three medallists at the Gold Coast — were dropped.

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Incidentally, Punam has been suspended by the IWLF for indiscipline after she left the national camp (at NIS Patiala) for home on two occasions without taking permission from the federation. She is yet to reply to the show-cause notice issued to her.

Sahdev said that Rahul and Satish were injured, so they have been dropped from the TOPS. “I am hoping both of them will come back to the TOPS list after recovering from their injuries,” Yadav said.

He also said that the federation was chalking out plans to send the weightlifters outside the country for training before the Asian Games.