The Sports Authority of India (SAI) introduced a five-member medical panel today to keep an eye out for the elite athletes who are undergoing rehabilitation or are injured. The members will analyse the medical reports of the players who have been inducted in the Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), the Sports Ministry’s flagship program that scouts, shortlist and provide assistance to potential Olympic winners.
The formation of such a panel was doing the rounds ever since Hima Das injured her back again in September and had to be ruled out of the Doha World Championships. Das’ injury and the intensity of it was kept hidden from SAI since the Asian Games in 2018, and it came to light during the Doha Asian Championships in April this year, when Hima had pulled out of her 400 metres individual heats midway. Radhakrishnan Nair, India’s deputy chief coach then had said that Hima was suffering from a back spasm.
However, despite the injury, the 19-year old was selected in the team that was sent to Europe for training in July. She also competed in the IAAF events, but the injury had become so severe by then that she could only compete in a race once.
Hima’s is not the only injury that has come under the scanner in the recent past. Dipa Karmakar, the gymnast who finished fourth in the Rio Olympics, took a long break after the event during which she also got operated on her knee. However, she has not been her old self since, with Dr PSM Chandran, SAI’s former science expert, questioning whether Dipa underwent a proper rehabilitation process.
David John, Hockey India’s high performance director, Dr Amol Patil of the Boxing Federation of India, Dr Pralay Majumdar, SAI’s sports scientist, Sr Srikanth Iyengar, also a sports scientist, are members of this panel. The TOPS athletes will need to send their medical reports in case of an injury to the five members.