For India, in terms of competitiveness in multi-disciplinary sporting events, the Asian Games is next to the Olympics.
With the next Asian Games less than a year away, it would have been ideal to begin preparation earnestly.
What seemed like quick approval before the Olympics, especially with training and competition, now seems laboured.
Though the training and competition of athletes are being taken care of by Sports Authority of India (SAI) through its Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC), it is taking time for approval.
As pointed out earlier in this column, the boxing camp is yet to be approved despite the World Championships less than two weeks away.
Before the Olympics, the SAI managed to sanction individual requirement of athletes quickly and efficiently.
Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu’s US trip for rehabilitation was sanctioned within 48 hours. Some top athetes who performed well at the Olympics would have taken a break or nursed injuries but some of them are coming back to competition.
For example, doubles shuttlers Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are back. Mathias Boe who was hired under Target Olympic Podium Scheme is no longer with the pair. Shooter Manu Bhaker too is back.
What seems intriguing is that the TOPS core groups is yet to be finalised. According to a statement from SAI recently, the core group was “dissolved at the end of the Olympics and Paralympics”.
SAI also said, “inclusion of India’s elite athletes in the Core Group of the TOPS for the next Olympic cycle is being discussed with National Sports Federations (NSFs) by SAI ahead of the meeting scheduled in October to finalise the fresh list of athletes in the TOPS Core Group”.
That means the core group is no longer supported by TOPS and are not even getting their out of pocket allowance of `50,000. Yes, the month is not over yet.
But the SAI could have at least held the Mission Olympic Cell meeting. The cell selects athletes for TOPS. Since the Olympics, there has been no meeting.
There were 164 Olympic and para athletes (220 in total with 33 men’s and 25 women’s hockey players) in the Core Group.
In the development group, which is for 2024 and 2028, there are about 254 athletes. This group, however, is getting their OPA of Rs 25,000 per month paid once in three months.
That the TOPS doesn’t have a Chief Executive Officer could perhaps be complicating matters.
As pointed out here, the SAI had invited fresh application with revised criteria in the end of September. Interestingly, the SAI had already advertised for this post in June and was nearing the end of selection process.
However, TOPS does have an in-charge. It could easily have convened an MOC meeting to select the most eligible, say about 50 athletes, for the time being and continue supporting them.
The full list could have been finalised later. Also some of the athletes belonging to the development group will be promoted to the core group.
It is understood that SAI was busy with awards functions after the Olympics and Paralympics. Now, with hundreds of applications for sports awards, the officials are busy (with preliminary scrutinisation).
Perhaps, holding one MOC meeting would have been possible.
Rana tipped to be men’s boxing chief coach
As reported by this newspaper, the men’s boxing national camp is yet to be announced, with the World Championships scheduled to begin on October 24.
Along with the camp, a new chief national coach for men is expected to be announced.
Interestingly, CA Kuttappa would be given another role while Narendra Rana, the Services coach, is likely to be the next national coach.