After an athlete review meeting by Sports Authority of India’s Mission Olympic Cell, squads for wrestling, weightlifting and athletics under the Target Olympic Podium scheme was announced on Thursday.
Two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar and Asian games gold medallist heptathlete Swapna Barman were among the notable absentees left out in the revised list.
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, PTI reported. The 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 said.
“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.
This was the first review after a busy sporting calendar that included the Asian Games and the Youth Olympics.
The performance of potential athletes in the disciplines for inclusion in the Tops scheme was reviewed in the context of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paris 2024 Olympics. SAI stated that that they will support a developmental group for the 2024 Olympics and that athletes from other sports will be reviewed and added at a later stage.
SAI announced that the review was undertaken on the following parameters:
- Global performance trends over the last three to four Olympic Games and two most recent World Championships.
- Performance of competing international counterparts (athletes) in the last three years
- High performance age of a typical Olympic medalist specific to each event
- Performance of Indian athletes in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and their progression chart
- Feedback from NSF, National Observers, High Performance Managers, Project Officers and Coaches, wherever applicable
Athletes were chosen based on three criteria – medal probability, ability to finish in top eight in their event at Tokyo 2020 and developmental athletes for 2024 Olympics.
The following athletes were included in Tops:
Neeraj Chopra (Men’s javelin throw), Tejinder Toor (Men’s shot put), Seema Punia (Women’s discus throw), Arpinder Singh (Men’s triple jump), Md. 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 up to World Championships 2019)
In addition to the above, the performance of the following athletes will be reviewed at the Asian Championships in 2019:
Manjit Singh (Men’s 800m and 1500m), Tejaswin Shankar (Men’s high jump), Gavit Mural (Men’s 10,000m), Swapna Barman (Women’s heptathlon), Beant Singh (men’s 800m)
Sandeep Tomar (Men’s 57kg), Utkarsh Kale (Men’s 57kg), Bajrang Punia (Men’s 65 kg), Deepak Punia (Men’s 86 kg), Vinesh Phogat (Women’s 50-53), Ritu Phogat (Women’s 50-53), Pooja Dhanda (Women’s 57 kg), Sakshi Malik [Women’s 62 kg (up to Asian Championships in 2019], Divya Kakran (Women’s 68 kg), Sajan (Men’s Greco-Roman 77 kg).
The release stated that Naveen, who competes in Men’s 57 kg freestyle and Vijay who competes in Men’s Greco-Roman 60 kg are being considered for the developmental group for the 2024 Olympics
India’s best performance in the Olympics for women’s has been a bronze (Karnam Malleswari at Sydney 2000) and in Men’s 11th. Therefore the criteria for selection was set as medal probable for women lifters and top 10 for men’s.
Team: Ragala Venkat Rahul (Men’s 96kg), Mirabai Chanu (Women’s 49kg), Achinta Sheuli (Men’s 77 kg), Jhili Dalabehera (Women’s 49 kg), Jeremy Lalrinnunga (Men’s 67 kg) – the last four are being considered for the developmental group for the 2024 Olympics.