Last week, the Sports Authority of India added eight sportspersons to the Target Olympics Podium (TOP) Scheme. All of them have had a remarkable run at international meets over the past few months. While five of them are shooters and two are boxers, Ankita Raina is the lone tennis player to have the cut.
And here is the 8th athlete who has been added to the TOPS pool.
Wishing you all the best for your future endeavours, Ankita!
Hope you continue making the nation proud.
Many congratulations @ankita_champ ! #TOPSAthlete #SAI pic.twitter.com/LGVxiLdiZA
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) April 28, 2018
And with good reason. The 25-year-old national tennis champion recently became only the fifth Indian woman to break into the Top 200 list of the WTA singles rankings. The others are Sania Mirza, Nirupama Vaidyanathan, Shikha Uberoi and Sunitha Rao.
Sania Mirza, incidentally, was the last one to have achieved this feat.
Target Top 150 Now
Expressing happiness at finally being included in the TOP Scheme, Ankita said that her aim was to bring laurels to her nation. “My best performances have always when playing for the country and I’ll definitely not fall short of giving my best effort to achieve my aim!” she said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Her entry to the Top 200 List in with a ranking of 197 in April came close on the heels of her performance while representing India it the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania group matches held in Delhi in February, where she defeated players ranked much higher than her.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Ankita Raina promptly told the world about her next target – breaking into the Top 150 List!
Everything will happen for you all of a sudden and you’ll be thankful you didn’t give up. Blessings are coming. Believe that. Top 200! Next step top 150. #careerbest #dreamsdocometrue #keepdreaming #keepbelieving #SAG #Yonex #HBTA #nijhontrainingsystems #ankitaraina_official pic.twitter.com/V1Ub8S53rz
— Ankita Raina (@ankita_champ) April 9, 2018
Racquet Does The Talking
While India lost its tie with China during the Fed Cup Asia-Oceania group match in February, Ankita pulled off an impressive win against World No. 120 Lin Zhu. She did one better the next day, defeating Kazakhstan’s Yuliya Putintseva, ranked World No. 81.
The champion followed this up by winning the $ 25,000 Gwalior ITF title in March. Her dream run had started in November last year, when she made it to the Mumbai Open quarter-finals.
What Is TOPS?
The TOP Scheme being run by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) provides support for training, coaching, and equipment needed by athletes selected under the programme. When the scheme was announced for sportspersons preparing for the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 152 athletes were included in the list.
The number has now gone up to 160 with the latest additions. Besides Ankita Raina, the list now also includes five shooters – Manu Bhaker, Anish Bhanwala, Mehuli Ghosh, Om Prakash Mitharwal, and Shahzar Rizvi.
Bhanwala had become the youngest Indian to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Games. The shooting contingent had brought India a rich haul of medals at the Games.
Two boxers, Gaurav Solanki and Hussamuddin Mohammad, have also been seleted for TOPS.
Those chosen under the scheme are entitled to receive Rs 50,000 per month to meet expenses like coaching, specialized training in foreign institutions, and the cost of equipment and sports gear.