The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has decided to remove weightlifters Ragala V Rahul, Punam Yadav and Sathish Sivalingam from the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme. All three axed weightlifters, Sathish in 77kg, Rahul in 85kg and Punam in 69kg had won gold at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
Apart from them, ace Indian shooter Gagan Narang, woman distance runner Lalita Babar and 20km race walker K Ganapathy were among 12 athletes axed from the TOPs scheme. The other shooters who failed to be in the list after the reshuffle were shooters Harveen Sarao, Pooja Ghatkar, Meghna Sajjanar, Satyendra Singh, Omkar Singh and Prakash Nanjappa.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) said in a statement that the athletes were dropped from the cash incentive scheme due to poor recent performances and fitness concerns.
An official of the Weightlifting Federation of India (WFI) informed that Punam Yadav was left out because of indiscipline. She was temporarily suspended by the WFI as she did not join the camp after returning from Gold Coast. On the other hand, Satish Shivalingam is currently in rehabilitation after injuring his back while Rahul is recovering from a knee injury.
The Mission Olympic Cell included six new athletes to TOPS. Women discus throwers Seema Punia and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, teenage 400m runner Hima Das, shooters Akhil Sheoran and Elavenil Valarivan, weightlifter Rakhil Halder are the six inducted into the scheme.
Seema Punia won silver at the CWG while fellow discus thrower Navjeet Kaur had bagged a bronze. Hima Das qualified for the Women’s 400m final at Gold Coast CWG by clocking a personal best of 51.32 seconds. Akhil Sheoran and Elavenil Valarivan won gold at the Guadalajara World Cup and Sydney Junior World Cup. Rakhil Halder also had an impressive run in the Women’s 63kg category when she broke the 19-year-old national record of Olympic medallist Karnam Malleswari.