Seven former Indian athletes added to Mission Olympics Cell
New Delhi, Dec 2: Football icon Bhaichung Bhutia and long jumper Anju Bobby George were among seven former athletes who were included in the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) on Thursday as India looked to build on the successes of Tokyo Olympics for a stronger show in Paris 2024 edition.
MOC drives India’s Olympics preparation through Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), an initiative of the ministry.
Former India hockey captain Sardara Singh, rifle shooting legend Anjali Bhagwat, former hockey captain and CEO Olympic Gold Quest Viren Rasquinha, table tennis star Monalisa Mehta and badminton ace Trupti Murgunde were the other athletes added to the revamped MOC.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said the decision was driven by the experience gained in the last Olympic cycle. “The inputs by former athletes in the incumbent MOC played a significant role in supporting the training and competition of the athletes who competed in Tokyo 2020 and won 7 medals & 19 in Para Olympic Games,” Thakur said.
MOC is a body set up by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to select athletes for financial assistance under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). The MOC also focuses on selection, exclusion and retention of athletes, coaches, training institutes that can receive TOPS assistance.
Meanwhile, legendary Indian long jumper Anju Bobby George has been bestowed with the Woman of the Year Award by World Athletics for grooming talent in the country and advocating gender equality.
The 44-year-old Anju, the only Indian to have won a medal in the World Championships with a long jump bronze in the 2003 edition, was named for the award in the world body’s annual awards night held virtually on Wednesday.
She is the first Indian to be honoured by the sport’s world body during its annual awards function. The award is given to recognise a woman who has dedicated her life to the sport of athletics.
Anju is the second recipient of the prestigious award, which was started in 2019, after Ethiopia’s double Olympic champion Derartu Tulu.
Sprint legend PT Usha was honoured by the world athletics body with the Veteran Pin in 2019.
From 2014 to 2018, a similar honour called ‘Women in Athletics Award’, which recognised outstanding achievements and contributions made to develop, encouraged and strengthened the participation of women and girls at all levels of the sport, was given.
“The former international long jump star from India is still actively involved in the sport. In 2016 she opened a training academy for young girls, which has already helped to produce a world U20 medallist,” World Athletics said in a release.
“A constant voice for gender equality in her role as Senior Vice President of the Indian Athletics Federation, Bobby George also mentors schoolgirls for future leadership positions within the sport,” the release added. (PTI)