The Sports Authority of India on Wednesday shortlisted 258 athletes from across 12 sporting disciplines for support through Target Olympic Podium Scheme Developmental Group, also known as Junior TOPS.

The support will be extended through a group/systems approach and a monthly out of pocket allowance of Rs 25,000 will be given to every athlete.

Of the 12 disciplines, 16 athletes have been shortlisted in athletics, 34 in archery, 27 in badminton, four in cycling, seven in table tennis, 70 in shooting, 14 in swimming, 11 in judo, 36 in boxing, 16 in weightlifting, five in rowing and 18 in wrestling.

The SAI’s Mission Olympic Cell shortlisted the athletes, including the 85 named before the Covid-19 lockdown. They will be groomed for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics.

A SAI statement added that the formal induction of the athletes in the development group would be undertaken after setting an effective monitoring mechanism.

SAI, in its review meeting, also decided that performance benchmarks will be established for individual athlete for the next four years, in consultation with all stakeholders, including the athlete, coach, High Performance Directors/Chief National Coach of National Sports Federations.

Camps to start from October

Meanwhile, national training camps for junior athletes will begin from October 1, the SAI said on Wednesday.

It was decided that training of junior athletes at its National Centres of Excellence, shut since March due to the Covid-19 outbreak, will start in a phased manner from October.

“The training of junior campers will start from October 1 in a phased manner. First the athletes of TOPS Developmental Group will start training and gradually others will begin,” a SAI source told PTI.

The SAI, however, said that the respective state governments where the NCOEs are situated will take the final call, keeping in mind the health and safety of athletes and coaches amid the pandemic.

In view of the preparation for Olympics and to ensure that athletes have world-class infrastructure and equipment to train with, the SAI has also decided to enhance the funds at all its NCOEs.

“Funds will be provided to upgrade existing infrastructure and equipment or procure new ones, as per the need of athletes. We are ready to provide all support needed to ensure that athletes in India have the best facilities at par with the world,” Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said.

To ensure a safe environment for all the athletes, especially those joining the camps in their teenage years, a series of sensitisation workshops will be held in these NCOEs on various subjects.

Besides, the SAI has also decided to increase these awareness workshops, including workshops on sexual harassment. The aim is to make athletes aware of sexual harassment issues and about the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act, and motivate them to speak up against any form of harassment.