On July 24, Mirabai Chanu won the first medal of the Tokyo Olympics for India. While everyone congratulated her on the achievement, the propagandists started to look for ways to demean her victory. They found the easiest target when Birendra Prasad Baishya, President of Indian Weightlifting Federation thanking PM Modi and other athletes for participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
Baishya, while talking to NDTV, said, “Mirabai Chanu waited 21 years to get this medal. We are grateful to the Prime Minister and the Indian athletes who took part in Tokyo Olympics.” Rohini Singh, an alleged journalist, could not digest the fact that Prime Minister or Union government can have a role in an athlete’s good performance. She quoted NDTV’s tweet and said, “Grateful to the prime minister for what exactly? Lifting weights on her behalf?”
‘Activist’ Rejimon Kuttappan was no different. He said, “So, Modiji is coaching Olympics athletes.”
Cartoonist Manjul was so sure that he would find a way to demean India and its athletes that he created a cartoon before anyone won a medal. In a cartoon published on July 13, an athlete was seen standing on the podium holding a placard thanking PM Modi. Notably, Tokyo Olympics started on July 23.
Congress’ Lavanya Ballal said, “Thank you Narendra Modi for coaching Mirabai Chanu,” in a sarcastic way.
However, while the credit and all praises should go to the athletes for sheer grit and determination for bringing glory to India, one must acknowledge the state and central government as well as other agencies which strive to make sure that the athletes get the training they need to make their dreams come true.
Did you know that last year due to COVID lockdown, Mirabai Chanu was not able to get proper training and work on her weakness? As per reports, the then Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju sent Chanu and her coach Vijay Sharma were able to go to the US right before they banned travellers from India on May 4 due to the pandemic surge. In US, since the restrictions were fewer, Mirabai was able to train herself and prepare herself from the Tokyo Olympics which earned her the Silver.
Hence, in such a situation, it would not be wrong to thank the country’s Prime Minister, who much to the heartburn of ‘liberals’ happens to be Narendra Modi. Here is a glimpse of various initiatives of Central government under PM Modi over past few years that has helped the Indian athletes.
TOPS – Target Olympic Podium Scheme
Adequate funding is crucial for a sportsperson to achieve professional success in the International arena. All sporting categories, with the exception of cricket, has suffered from neglect and lack of training facilities. The athletes are often faced with sponsorship challenges, thereby making it difficult for them to excel. Having understood the underlying reason behind India’s poor performance in Olympics Games, the Indian government launched the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in September 2014. Mirabai Chanu is one of the beneficiaries of TOPS.
The programme was monitored by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, wherein it provided financial support and assistance to top athletes in the country. With the objective of helping sportspersons secure Olympic medals for the country, a TOPS Elite Altheltes’ Identification Committee and a Mission Olympic Cell were set up. The body was tasked to identify top athletes and parathletes and provide them with several benefits.
It includes training by reputed coaches at world-class facilities, purchase of equipment, supporting the services of physical trainers, sports psychologists, mental trainers and physiotherapists. At the same time, the athletes are provided with a monthly incentive of ₹50,000. The scheme covers sporting activities such as table tennis, tennis, weightlifting, wrestling, hockey, archery, athletics, badminton, boxing, shooting and para-sports.
The TOPS programme has witnessed tremendous success, with athletes such as PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik winning medals for India at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Similarly, India won two gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal, at the 2016 Paralympic games. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 47 of 70 athletes supported by the TOPS programme won medals for the country.
NCOE – National Centres of Excellence
National Centres Of Excellence have been established by the Sports Authority of India to impart specialized training to promising athletes by providing state of the art infrastructure and playing facilities, sports science backup, individualized diet prescribed by trained nutritionists and overall supervision under the best coaches, qualified support staff and High-Performance Directors. These centres operate as regular coaching camps for the best available talent across India. There are 23 such centres across the country concentrating on different sports.
Extension centres of STC (Training Centres Scheme)
Early training for talented athletes goes a long way in achieving international goals. To ensure the best talent gets the best training, the government introduced the scheme of extension centres of STCs covering 17 disciplines to cover schools and colleges with a view to developing sports standards in schools and colleges having requisite basic sports infrastructure. The scheme has shown good results across disciplines. Trainees of the age group of 10 years to 18 years are selected for regular training under this program.
The program has been introduced to bring back the sports culture in India at the grassroots level. Talented players identified in priority sports disciplines at various levels by the High-Powered Committee will be provided annual financial assistance of INR 5 lakh per annum for eight years. Khelo India games are being held since 2018. Under-17 athletes are invited to participate across 16 disciplines.
Fit India Movement
Launched in August 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the program aims at the overall improvement of health among Indians via sports. It helps in spreading awareness about fitness at the grass-root level. The aim is to spread awareness about fitness to every school, college/university, panchayat/village, etc. Several campaigns under the program have been launched to improve fitness among the people of India, thus bringing them closer to sports culture.
On state and national levels, pensions and jobs for athletes have also increased to encourage their contribution to the medal tally.