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Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) – Supporting India’s Top Athletes

Why the scheme is in the news?

Atanu Das, an Olympic Archer and World Championship Silver Medallist, has been re-admitted to the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS). This decision was made due to his outstanding performances in the Archery World Cup in Antalya and the domestic circuit. After a break of one and a half years, Atanu returned to international outdoor competition and secured the fourth spot in the Men’s Recurve individual rankings with a score of 673 points.

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Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS) What is it?

The Target Olympic Podium Scheme is a major initiative of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports aimed at providing support to India’s top athletes. The scheme aims to enhance the training of these athletes in order to help them win medals at the Olympics. To accomplish this goal, the Department of Sports is responsible for identifying individuals with the potential to win medals at the Olympics. The scheme seeks to sponsor a group of athletes who are in the developmental stage and have the potential to win medals at the 2024 Paris Olympics and the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS): History

The Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), an initiative of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, was launched in September 2014 with the aim of helping India win Olympic medals in the 2016 (Rio) and 2020 (Tokyo) Olympics. A committee called the TOPS Elite Athletes’ Identification Committee was created to identify elite athletes capable of winning a podium finish at the Olympics. The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is responsible for selecting TOPS members and ensuring that “High-Priority” sports such as Archery, Badminton, Boxing, Hockey, Shooting, and Wrestling are represented.

The total number of committee members will be determined by MYAS, and the TOPS constitution does not specify a minimum or maximum number of members. The first committee was chaired by Shri. Anurag Thakur (MP) and included eminent athletes such as Pullela Gopichand, Rahul Dravid, Abhinav Bindra, and Manisha Malhotra, as well as sports administrators from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the MYAS [DG SAI and JS (Sports)].

Mission Olympic Cell (MOC)

To provide support to the athletes chosen under the TOP Scheme, a special organization called the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) was established. The head of the MOC is the Director General of the Sports Authority (DG, SAI), and the committee sessions are attended by representatives from the relevant National Sports Federations (NSFs) and SAI Project Officers, among other members. The main objective of the MOC is to discuss, review, and choose the procedures and approaches that are most suitable for the athlete’s development. In addition, the MOC is responsible for selecting, rejecting, and retaining athletes, coaches, and training facilities that qualify for TOPS support.

Below is a list of some of the MOC’s functions:

  1. Approve special programs for athletes selected under the TOP Scheme.
  2. Recommend financial payments for personalized programs.
  3. Assist, monitor, and evaluate athletes’ progress according to their training plans.
  4. Establish a regular reporting system for athletes’ training plans.
  5. Make decisions on unexpected requests or needs of athletes.
  6. Maintain regular communication with athletes to discuss their progress, needs, and feedback.
  7. Delegate any or all of the above tasks to the implementation partner agency.
  8. Ensure compliance with contractual obligations and documents for beneficiaries.
  9. Fulfill media, sponsor, and commercial partner commitments required under the NSDF TOP Scheme.

Scheme of Assistance under TOPS

The Scheme’s main aim is to enhance the athlete’s training beyond what is already included in the Annual Calendar of Training and Competition (ACTC). The following are some of the assistance the selected athletes may request under the Scheme:

  1. Personalized coaching from reputable trainers in top-notch facilities.
  2. Participation in international competitions.
  3. Purchase of equipment.
  4. Access to support staff such as physiotherapists, sports psychologists, mental trainers, and physical trainers.
  5. Any other assistance customized to the sport discipline.
  6. Providing an incentive-based monthly out-of-pocket allowance of Rs. 50,000 (Rupees fifty thousand) to the athletes.

Selection and Review Committee

The Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) convenes weekly to examine and evaluate athlete proposals. The Committee imposes financial penalties based on the athlete’s request and the Committee’s recommendation. The Committee is also responsible for periodically reviewing the athletes’ progress and development. Based on the Committee’s advice, athletes may be added, retained, or removed from the TOP Scheme.

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