Table tennis player Sutirtha Mukherjee has been promoted to the core group of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (Tops) run by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
Sutirtha was in the Tops development scheme from January last year and now will be in core team till the Tokyo Olympics. She, along with Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics last month in Doha.
Under Tops, SAI extends all requisite support to medal prospects identified for Tokyo, the 2024 Paris Olympics, the 2028 Los Angeles Games and the corresponding Paralympic Games.
The athletes get support for foreign training, international competitions, equipment and coaching camps. They are also given a monthly stipend of Rs 50,000.
Sutirtha was getting Rs 25,000 as monthly stipend during her time in the development team.
“It’s a big boost for Sutirtha. The Olympics are just a few months away and this will help her to prepare better,” Soumyadeep Roy, national coach and Sutirtha’s mentor told The Telegraph on Wednesday.
Sutirtha practises at the Soumyadeep Poulomi UTT Table Tennis Academy.
“Now we have to decide how to go about it. She will need a sparring partner who is good in defence. Someone from Europe may not be a bad option. At this point in time, her sparring partners are from my academy,” Soumyadeep added.
Sutirtha is not charged a single penny for her training at the academy.
The world No. 95 learnt her rudimentary skills at Naihati Youth Association in North 24-Parganas. She, however, represents Haryana in the national championships from 2018.
Her father Avijit said the Haryana government’s support has been a key point in the development of the paddler.
“You need better training to make a sportsperson competitive and for that you need financial aid. In the aspect, Haryana government has been very supportive throughout,” Avijit said.