The Sports Ministry has left out veteran Leander Paes and Saketh Myneni from the initial list of tennis players, who have been chosen for monthly allowance for their preparations for the next year’s big-ticket events and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
According to reliable Sports Ministry sources, among the players who have been chosen for Rs 50,000 allowance per month are leading men’s singles players Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan, country’s top doubles player Rohan Bopanna and youngster Sumit Nagal. Myneni, who has been dropped alongside Paes, is the recipient of this year’s Arjuna award.
Three women players have been included in the list, which features Sania Mirza, Prarthana Thombare and Karman Kaur Thandi. Surprisingly country’s top singles player Ankita Raina has not been included in the list. While Ankita is ranked 260 in the world, Thombare, who played Olympics with Sania, is ranked 801 in singles. There are nine Indian players ranked above her.
In the doubles though, Thombare is country’s second highest ranked player at number 129 behind Sania, who is now world number eight. “This is not the final list,” a Sports Ministry official told PTI. In all, the ministry has chosen 152 athletes across disciplines for their preparations for next year’s Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Anyone who performs well can be added in the list later on and who fails to perform can be removed from the list,” the official added. Another source said a review committee will sit in the next 15-20 days to evaluate performance of the chosen athletes.
“It’s a continuous process now. We will see who is doing what. We will see near the Commonwealth Games, who have been chosen in the team and what could be their chances for the Asian Games. And then how they have performed at the CWG to see if they should be kept in the list or reomved,” said the official.
Asked what was the criteria to choose the players, the official said the list was prepared after getting input from the national federation and government observers apart from ministry’s own research committee.
In tennis case, Somdev Devvarman is the national observer.