It has been over 10 months since Indian boxer Vijender Singh gave up amateur boxing to turn professional, but it seems the switch was not noticed by the government.
Singh, who won an Olympic bronze medal in 2008, has been on the sports ministry’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) beneficiaries list from the very beginning when it was formed in 2014.
The list comprises of India’s top athletes whom the government considers probables to bring India an medal in the upcoming Rio Olympics.
These medal hopefuls, are thus eligible for government funding and looking at Singh’s past performance he was added to this list as well.
Under TOPS scheme, Singh was offered Rs 75 lakh from the TOPS corpus of Rs 40 crore, which were to be used for his training and other requirements, but come June 2015, the Haryana pugilist had shocked everyone and announced that he was turning pro and thus ruling himself out of the upcoming Olympic competitions as he was no longer eligible.
It has been 10 months since his announcement and over the time TOPS list of athletes have been updated many times.
But despite that fact, Singh continued to figure in the ministry list beneficiaries till about early this week. It seems the ministry never paid enough attention all these months to strike off his name from the TOPS list and rather earmark his funding to other sportspersons who were in the waiting to be added on the list.
The error was only rectified when the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) took keen interest in knowing about the progress under TOP scheme and the ministry realised that Vijender still featured as a medal hopeful.
Fearing embarrassment, they immediately dropped Vijender’s name on April 11, as they had been instructed by the PMO to submit the latest list of athletes immediately.
Besides Singh, other players to have been dropped from the TOPS list are Mandeep Kaur (athletics), RMV Gurusaidutt (badminton) and Sharath Gayakwad (para-swimmer).
The decision to drop the above three names were taken looking at their performance in the past few months.