The scheme that was launched in 2014 to financially help India’s top athletes in the Olympic Games was initially meant to be continued till the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But it had been decided that the ministry will only decide about its continuance after the Rio Games.
These athletes would be entitled to receive funding for other major international competitions, including the World Cups and World Championships.
Lets have a look at the current 81, elite sports-persons under the TOPS funding and whom you should look out for this Rio Olympics.
Men’s Discus thrower Vikas Gowda is the biggest name to watch of for in India’s TOPS Track and Field contingents. Born in Mysore, Gowda has been residing and training in Maryland, USA, for past many years.
In the recent past, he won Gold medal in Discus throw both at 2014’s Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. He also won gold in 2015’s Asian Championships and had finished 8th in 2012’s London Olympics.
Women Archer Deepika Kumari brought India global recognition with regards to sport of Archery. At 21, Deepika is already a well recognized face in Ranchi and has brought many laurels to India in the past years.
Deepika, won gold medals in both Women’s Recurve Team and Individual events at 2010 Commonwealth Games.
That same year she had also gone on to win Bronze in Recurve Team event at Asian Games in Guangzhou and then continued her podium streak by winning Silver at 2011s Archery World Cup and Archer World Championships.
She since then has won two Silver in 2012 and 2013 Archery World Cup, and another Silver in 2015`s World Championships.
After decades, India once again has come to the forefront of Badminton with many young players now being known as an recognizable force in the sport of Badminton.
One of the biggest names to lookout for this Olympics would be shuttler Saina Nehwal, who until recently was World Number 1 badminton player.
Though the list of Nehwal`s achievement is long, in the recent years she has won a Silver in Badminton World Championships (2015), had many podium finishes in BWF, World Prix and Grand Prix events. Her biggest achievement was when she won Bronze at 2012`s London Olympics which she would be looking to better this year.
33-year-old boxer, MC Mary Kom, is a veteran in her game. Over the years she has not only become one of India’s most famous boxer, but has also made a name for herself for fighting for her rights and not backing down from what she feels is correct.
This being Mary Kom`s last Olympics, she has already made it public that she is gunning for Gold and nothing less. In the last few years Mary has given it her all and has been in top form. She won Gold in 2014`s Asian Games and would now be looking to top her 2012`s Olympic Bronze performance by winning Gold in Women`s 51kg Flyweight Category.
25-year-old Air Pistol Shooter Jitu Rai popped into Indian shooting circuit in 2013-2014 and immediately made an huge impact, a name that would become a recognizable force in world shooting in the coming years.
Since his entry in 2014, Jitu has won many medals in world events and has even managed to climb the top spot in 10 meters Air Pistol rankings. In the past two years he has won Gold and Bronze in Asian Games 2014, a Gold in 2014’s Commonwealth Games, a Gold and two Silver in 2014’s Shooting World Cup, a Bronze in 2015’s Shooting World Cup and a Silver in 2014’s World Shooting Championships.
WTA World Number 1 doubles player Sania Mirza, is India biggest hope for a medal in this upcoming Olympics. Though Sania’s would not be able to partner her Swiss Tennis Play Martina Hingis for the event, looking at Mirza’s current from, India’s probability of getting a medal in Olympics Women’s Double’s event or a Mixed doubles event is high. Especially if the duo of Mirza and Leander Paes is able get their old connection back and go all out.
In the recent past in non WTA events, Mirza has won Gold and a Bronze in Asian Games 2014, and a Bronze and a Silver in 2010’s Commonwealth Games
2016 being the last time that Wrestling would be featured as an Olympic Event, all Indian wrestlers would be going all out to finish at the podium in this historic event. The biggest names to look out for in Olympic Wrestling would be none other than wrestler Sushil Kumar and Yogeswar Dutt who already have Olympic medals under their belt, just not the Gold one.
While Dutt won a Bronze in 2012’s London Olympics, Kumar has an Bronze in 2008 Olympics and a Silver in 2012 Olympics.
In the recent past, Kumar won an Gold in 2014’s Commonwealth Games and then gave 2014’s Asian Games a skip to focus on his Olympic preparation while Dutt won Gold at both these events. He would now be aiming to do the same in Olympics in 2016 and with both Kumar and Dutt being in top form the possibility looks really good.
Para – Athletes:
Girisha Hosanagara Nagarajegowda (HN Girisha ) is an Indian High-Jumper who has already made a mark from himself in the world of Para-Sports.
The 28- year-old even won Indian an Silver in Paralympics 2012 and would now be looking to better it by getting an Gold in September 2016.