- Indian para-athletes face financial difficulties in the Para-Swimming Championship held in Germany
- The coach assigned to these athletes was of no help, being absent during some of the main events
- The blunder caused by the concerned authorities made the athletes borrow money in an unfamiliar place.
New Delhi, July 13, 2017: Kanchanmala Pande who was one of the five Indian para-athletes to participate in the Para-Swimming Championship held in Germany was forced to borrow money as the funds sanctioned by the Indian government for this swimmers’ tournament did not reach them.
Based in Nagpur, she is completely blind and participates in the S11 category. She had to face extreme hardship and torment during her Berlin trip due to the alleged blunder made by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
— Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) July 12, 2017
Being a para-athlete, she very well knows how to make her way through the tide. However, she was left on her own by India’s sports authorities. She was so dedicated to swimming in this tournament that she made efforts herself to raise around Rs 5 lakh in an unfamiliar place.
She along with five others participating in this championship in the German capital from July 3-9 had a crucifying experience due to the irresponsibility of the concerned authorities. The PCI has blamed the Sports Authority of India for this harrowing affair.
But this episode failed to prevent the athletes from shining. In the face of all odds, Kanchanmala and Subash Jadhav won silver medals and were successful in qualifying for the World Championships. Aged 26, Kanchanmala beat the qualifying mark in 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 100m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley, in which she also backed a silver medal. She turned out to be the only female Indian swimmer to qualify for the World Para-Swimming Championships this year, mentioned TOI report.
Kanchanmala and her escort Jaimala Pande were included in the Berlin contingent that was permitted government sponsorship. However, the PCI failed to supply her the funds and she was forced to pay for her hotel and food expenses. She said, “I was not given any official confirmation if I will receive a reimbursement for the expense I bore. I had to pay around Rs 70,000 for the hotel and more than Rs 40,000 for food. There was a time when I had no money left. I was simply devastated.”
The swimmers were made to arrange for their visas as well, which added an additional Rs 15,000 to the cost. Kanchanmala was devastated to see that the PCI had registered her in the 50m backstroke when she had applied for the 100m backstroke.
Kawaljeet Singh, their coach was of no help as he often went missing during the main events. He even went to extent of asking for 90 pounds (Rs 7,462) as a participation fee. She said that a coach is meant to assist and take care of his athletes but she didn’t see that in Singh.
She narrated an incident in which she took a tram from the tournament venue to her hotel and she had no money. She had to travel without a ticket and was caught by a checker who later fined her for 120 pounds ( approximately Rs 10,000).
However, PCI vice-president Gurucharan Singh said that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had not sanctioned the amount for the tournament along with the statement that swimmers will be refunded their money.
“I hope a repeat of this will not happen in the future,” she said after qualifying for second World Championship. “Athletes, especially the disabled, are meant to be treated with respect and such incidents shouldn’t be tolerated. Now that I have qualified, I want to train hard and win medals. I am getting to my best and with proper guidance and training, hope to have a successful campaign in Mexico.”
-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter: Hkaur1025