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Dravid, Bindra and Gopichand to select potential Olympic medal hopefuls

New Delhi: With an aim to increase India's medal tally in 2016 and 2020 Olympics, the Sports Ministry has decided to start a "Target Mission Olympic Podium Scheme" and an elite athletes identification committee, which will include sporting greats Rahul Dravid and Abhinav Bindra among others.


Pullela Gopichand, Rahul Dravid and Abhinav Bindra

The scheme will be promoted by National Sports Development fund and will support India's best medal prospects for Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics and other major sporting events up to 2020 games. Sports Ministry sources said that it has also been decided to constitute a TOP scheme elite athletes identification committee under BJP MP and executive member of IOA Anurag Thakur.

Apart from former cricket captain Dravid and Olympics gold medal winning shooter Bindra, the eight-member committee also consists of national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, Director General of SAI (Sports Authority of India), Joint Secretary sports, MYAS, CEO of Mittal Champions Trust Manisha Malhotra and Amrit Mathur as convener.

The committee will evaluate and select around 75 to 100 talented potential medal prospects with 25 30 on watch list for 2016 and 2020 Olympics. The focused disciplines will be athletics, archery, badminton, boxing, wrestling and shooting which have been India's best medal hopes so far. India has won only 26 medals in its Olympic history, which include nine gold, six silver and 11 bronze. Out of nine gold, eight have been won by the Indian hockey team in 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956 and 1980.

The only individual gold medal is won by Bindra, who is the member of Sports Ministry's committee. The time frame for the task will be two months. Applications will be invited from NSFs and individuals. Back up research will also be conducted on shortlisted applications. 

Thakur said that the their target is to ensure 20 medals in 2020 Olympics. "It is an honour for me to head such a prestigious committee having illustrious names like Dravid, Bindra and Gopichand. Our mandate is to select about 75-100 sportspersons under TOP scheme. We will ensure that promising sportspersons across various sports are identified and trained," Thakur told PTI Bhasha.

"Our aim is to take the medal tally in double digits in Rio 2016 Olympics and India should win 20 medals in 2020 Tokyo Olympics," said Thakur, who is also the joint secretary of the BCCI. There will be provisions for annual/bi annual review of selected athletes and fresh induction of outstanding talents as well as weeding out out of form players.

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