Deepika Kumari, who secured an individual Olympic quota place for India after winning gold at the Asian Archery Championships last month in the women's recurve event, has been included in Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) along with Ankita Bhakat, who had won silver in the event. Veteran Bombayla Devi was also included along with the men's and women's hockey team after the sides managed to qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020.
The other athletes who were included in the scheme include Chinki Yadav, who secured an Olympic berth in the 25 metre pistol event this year, Tejaswini Sawat, Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar.
The Sports Ministry announced the exclusion of Neeraj Phogat from the TOPS after the boxer was suspended by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) earlier this week for failing to pass a dope test. The Haryana boxer, who competed in the 57 kg weight category, was suspended for taking a performance-enhancing drug Ligandrol that helped in muscle building.
The national medalist, Neeraj won a bronze medal at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Bulgaria and followed it up with gold medals in tournaments in Russia and India. She was enlisted as a potential medal winner for Tokyo 2020, but following the scandal, Neeraj was dropped from the TOPS scheme on Thursday.
The Sports Authority of India also took the decision to exclude shooters Ravi Kumar and Om Prakash Mitharwal from the scheme. Ravi, who won bronze medals in the 10 metre air rifle and the 10 metre rifle mixed team at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games respectively has been unable to pitch in with consistent performances after a surgery this year, while Mitharwal won two golds in 2018 - at the World Championships and the World Cup in Guadalajara - but has not won a single medal in 2019.
The TOPS is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports that provides financial assistance, along with providing them with facilities and coaches, to the athletes who are identified as potential medal winners in the 2020 and the 2024 Olympics.