India's leading badminton stars dominate the recently-released list of fresh inductees in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports' (MYAS) flagship Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme, with singles stalwarts PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, Sameer Verma, and HS Prannoy making the cut.
The decision was made at a meeting of SAI's Mission Olympic Cell in the capital, chaired by body's Director General, Neelam Kapur.
A total of 23 athletes were selected from badminton, cycling, para-athletics, and para-shooting ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Paralympics, and 2024 Olympics.
Additionally, some athletes have also been included in the developmental group for Olympic 2024, and a watchlist has been prepared for athletes competing in badminton, para-athletics, para-shooting, para-swimming, and para-powerlifting. Athletes who feature on the watchlist will be considered for TOPS on the basis of their performance in the coming months.
"The athletes were chosen after a detailed analysis to ensure the best possible Olympic medal prospects are identified, in consultation with the National Sports Federations," SAI said in a statement.
The meeting was attended by Adille Sumariwalla, President, AFI, Gursharan Singh, vice president, PCI, Onkar Singh, general secretary, CFI, and Khajan Singh, national observer, swimming.
" SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) January 30, 2019
The review was undertaken on the following parameters:
-Global performance trends from most recent Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, World Cups, and World Championships
-Performance of the competing international counterparts (athletes) in the last three years
-High-performance age of a typical Olympic medalist specific to each event
-Performance of Indian athletes in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and their progression chart
-Feedback from NSF, National Observers, High-Performance Managers, Project Officers, and Coaches, wherever applicable
Following is the list of athletes that have made the cut:
The following athletes were included for Tokyo 2020
1. Kidambi Srikanth (Men's Singles)
2. Sameer Verma (Men's Singles)
3. HS Prannoy (Men's Singles)
4. PV Sindhu (Women's Singles)
5. Saina Nehwal (Women's Singles)
6. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty (Men's Doubles)
7. Ashwini Ponappa and Siki Reddy (Women's doubles) (Till World Championships)
8. Pranav Chopra and Siki Reddy (Mixed doubles) (Till World Championships)
In addition, the following players are on the watchlist:
Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy (Men's Doubles); Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha Ram (Women's Doubles)
In women's doubles and mixed doubles, it was decided in consultation with representatives of Badminton Association of India that the athletes shortlisted in TOPS will be on the list till the World Championships in August, and their further retention would be subject to their performance during the period of review.
Four athletes have been picked in the developmental group for the 2024 Olympics. India recently won 10 medals at the Junior Asian Track Cycling Championships. The decision to select these cyclists was made taking into consideration their personal best timings, which are superior to those recorded by many top cyclists including those who have been Olympic medalists when they participated at a junior level.
"The Committee believes these athletes will be ready as medal contenders for the 2024 Olympics," the release said.
The following four athletes were shortlisted in the developmental group:
1. Esow Alben
2. Ronaldo Singh
3. James Singh
4. Rojit Singh (all team sprint)
Para-Sports For the four disciplines under para-sports that were reviewed, the Committee chose the athletes who are considered the best medal contenders for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
A number of athletes have been kept on the watchlist and their performance will be closely monitored. In this period, they will be supported through the Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) for camps and exposure tournaments.
Para-Athletics: The selection criteria applied for para-athletics were the current world rankings of the athletes and their most recent scores that were being attained in comparison to global best standards.
The following athletes were included (Tokyo 2020)
1. Varun Bhati (Men's High Jump T63 (42,63)
2. Sharad Kumar (Men's High Jump T63 (42,63)
3. Sandeep Chaudhary (Men's Javelin Throw F64 (42-44, 61-64)
4. Sumit (Men's Javelin Throw F64 (42-44, 61-64)
5. Sundar Singh Gurjar (Men's Javelin F46 (45-46)
6. Rinku (Men's Javelin F46 (45-46)
7. Amit Saroha (Men's Club Throw F51)
8. Virender (Men's Shotput F57 (56-57)
9. Jayanti Behera (Women's 400m T47 (45-47)
In addition, the following athletes are on the watchlist:
1. Deepa Malik
2. Devendra Jhajharia
3. Sandeep Singh Mann
6. Rampal Chahar
8. Ekta Bhyan
9. Karamjyoti Dalal
12. Mariyappan Thangavelu
Para-Shooting: The criteria for selection was the average score attained over the last 11 events participated in, and if this score was above the Minimum Qualification Score required at the Paralympics. The selected athletes' recent scores are currently amongst the world's best. Here's the list:
1. Manish Narwal and Singhraj (Both Men's 10m Air Pistol SH1 and Mixed 50m Pistol SH1)
2. Deepender (Men's 10m Air Pistol SH1)
3. Avani Lekhara (Will be reviewed at World Championships)
In addition, the following athletes are on the watchlist:
1. Rubina Francis
2. Pooja Aggarwal
3. Sonia Sharma
Para Swimming and Para Powerlifting Eight para-swimmers and six para-powerlifters were included in the watchlist. The performance of the latter will be reviewed at the World Para Powerlifting Championships in July.
The athletes in Para Powerlifting who are on the watchlist are:
Jaideep, Sachin Chaudhary, Manpreet Kaur, Rajinder Singh Rahelu, Sakina Khatun and Farman Basha.
The athletes in Para Swimming who are on the watchlist are:
Suyash Narayan Jadhav, Niranjan Mukundan, Swapnil Patil, Chetan Giridhar Raut, Shridhar Nagappa Malagi, Devanshi Satija, Kanchanmala Pande, Sharath Gayakwad.