We don't have to worry about money because of TOPS and Khelo India programme, says Nikhat
Nikhat Zareen feels the introduction of TOPS and Khelo India programme has been a game changer as athletes can focus on their game without worrying about funds.
Star Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen feels the introduction of Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and Khelo India programme has been a game changer as athletes can focus on their game without worrying about funds.
The TOPS and Khelo India programme were introduced by the central government in 2014 and 2018 respectively. The government takes care of the funding of the athletes under the two schemes.
"Normally, when we represent India we have to use our money but with TOPS, that has changed. So we are able to focus on our game and win medals," Nikhat said during a panel discussion during the 'National Conclave on Mann Ki Baat @100'.
"When I started boxing there weren't many competitions. A player needs financial support the most and under Khelo India you get that. By taking out this scheme the PM has given the players a lot of support and in Khelo India a lot of women have broken a lot of national records. So, it's a motivation and encouragement for women to take part in sports."
The two-time world champion lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for motivating the athletes.
"Only a player understands when they are going through a bad time or are losing. I remember when I was injured, I was away from boxing for a year and people would taunt me 'her career is over' that time I pushed myself to make a comeback. But Modi ji doesn't just congratulate us on winning, he tries to motivate us before the competition."
Rio Paralympic silver medallist Deepa Malik, who was also part of the panel, recalled talking to the PM on "Chai per Charcha" and how Modi asked people to use the term 'Divyang' for specially-abled.
"In 2015, he proposed the word Divyang for us. There was a lot of repercussion on social media. But he said 'Let us focus on ability beyond disabilites'. But at that time I said 'when we say specially-abled in English, then why can't we say Divyang in Hindi'."