Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic champion, is among 14 Olympians appointed by the sports minister as national observers for their respective disciplines. The announcement made on Monday is to prepare the national teams for future Olympics, starting with the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Bindra, the Beijing Games 10m air rifle champion, has been appointed observer for shooting. Bindra, who retired after the 2016 Rio Olympics, is a member of the sports ministry’s task force set up in January to chalk out a comprehensive plan for the next three Olympics, starting with 2020 Tokyo.
Sushil Kumar, a double Olympic medalist in wrestling, woman weightlifter and Sydney Games bronze winner, Karnam Malleswari were also named. Athletics great PT Usha and world long jump bronze medalist, Anju Bobby George, will be observers for track and field.
Five-times world boxing champion and 2012 London Games bronze medalist, MC Mary Kom, and Akhil Kumar will oversee boxing. Mary Kom is also a nominated Rajya Sabha member.
Aparna Popat (badminton), Jagbir Singh (hockey), Somdev Devvarman (tennis), IM Vijayan (football), Khajan Singh (swimming), Sanjeev Kumar (archery) and Kamlesh Mehta (table tennis) are the others.
The observers will assist the government and Sports Authority of India (SAI) in coordination with the respective federations (NSFs) to implement the long-term development plans. They will also oversee the selection procedure of the NSFs and keep tab on the national camps.
The observers have also been tasked with monitoring and evaluating the performances of the core group of athletes in national camps and give feedback to the government’s Mission Olympics.