FORMER LONG JUMP champion Anju Bobby George has been appointed the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) chairperson, after the sports ministry cleared her appointment for the post on Tuesday.
The position was left vacant after BJP parliamentarian and BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur resigned. Anju has brought plenty of laurels to India that includes being the only Indian to win a medal at the 2003 World Championships in Paris. She will be taking charge in the first week of December.
Anju is currently a member of the TOPS' identification committee that also includes badminton legend Pullela Gopichand and former Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid.
Anju's next immediate goal would be to focus on the complaints of athletes preparing for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She would be looking into getting the required support and government funding for preparation.
"It's a big responsibility. I have to keep in mind the struggle of our medal hopefuls under TOPS. I hope I can support the athletes and help them in achieving their dreams at the Rio Olympics. As an athlete, I can understand their problems, their training and equipment needs and, most importantly, the value of time," Anju said, in a report published by DNA.
Though, Anju said she was slightly aware about the issues of TOPS athletes and that sometimes sportspersons don't make genuine demands.
"I have to discuss the problems with the identification committee and how we can tackle them to ensure smooth implementation of the scheme. I believe all the TOPS probables are getting the support now, but there have been some cases where the sportspersons don't justify their demand. Some athletes don't submit or clear bills after returning from a training stint abroad. There hasn't been report from coaches or the kind of training they underwent. If those athletes again ask for funding, then it would be difficult for the government to release further funds and clear his/her trip. I know that some of the athletes are not ready to produce bills. I'd be looking into all these issues for the benefit of our athletes," she added.