- 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 blind and participates in the S11 category. She had to go through 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. She was so dedicated to swimming in this tournament that she made efforts herself to raise around Rs 5 lakh in an unknown place.
She along with five more people participating in this championship in the capital of German from 3rd to 9th July underwent a crucifying experience due to the irresponsibility of the concerned authorities. The PCI has put the blame on 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,Subash Jadhav and Kanchanmala triumphed with silver medals and were successful in qualifying for the World Championships. The qualifying point was beaten by 26-aged Kanchanmala in 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 100m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley, in which a silver medal was backed by her. She turned out to be India’s only swimmer in the female category to qualify for the World Para-Swimming Championships this year, mentioned TOI report.
Kanchanmala and Jaimala Pande, her escort were included in the contingent of Berlin that was permitted government sponsorship. However, the PCI did not supply her the funds and she had no option but to pay for her food and hotel 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 had to make arrangements for their visas as well, which added a separate Rs 15,000 to the cost. Kanchanmala was devastated when she noticed her name was put in the event of 50m backstroke by the PCI but she had applied for the 100m backstroke.
Kawaljeet Singh, their coach was of no help as, during the main and crucial events, he frequently went missing. 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 travelled by a tram once from the venue of the tournament to her hotel without any money. She was forced to travel with no ticket and unfortunately, a checker caught her and later fined her for 120 pounds ( approximately Rs 10,000).
The vice-president of PCI, Gurucharan Singh stated that the amount for the tournament had not been sanctioned by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and that refund will be provided to all the swimmers in monetary terms.
“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