Nagpur-based para-swimmer forced to fend for herself in 2017 World Para Swimming World Series in Berlin
NEW DELHI,July12: Six Indian Para-swimmers were reportedly forced to fend for themselves at the recently held 2017 World Para Swimming World Series in Berlin after the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) failed to release the money sanctioned for the event.
Kanchanmala Pande, a Nagpur-based para-swimmer who is completely blind and swims in the S11 category, termed her experience in the German capital a ‘horror show’, recounting how she had to arrange the funds needed for participation in the tournament.
“I never thought I would face such problems. I had to take a loan of Rs 5 lakh so that I could participate in the tournament,” she was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail on Tuesday.
Not only that, coach Kanwaljeet Singh who accompanied them for the championships, went missing during the events and allegedly demanded £90 (Rs 7,462) as participation fee.
“He [Singh] didn’t help me at all. I used to go back to the hotel just with my escort and god knows where he used to be. Once, I took a tram from the tournament venue to my hotel and I had no money. I had to travel without ticket and was caught by the checker who later fined me £120 [Rs 10,000],” she said.
India’s lone Olympic individual gold medalist Abhinav Bindra expressed his disappointment on Twitter, asking accountability on the part of those responsible for the treatment meted out to the swimmers. In a series of tweets, he also called for the professionalising of the sports bodies.
The extent of official apathy can simply be gauged from the fact that PCI entered her in the 50m Backstroke which wasn’t even her event.
Despite the harrowing experience, Pande, the only female para-swimmer from India to qualify for the event, won a silver medal in the 200m Individual Medley and beat the qualifying mark in 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke and 100m Breaststroke.
Meanwhile, PCI vice-president Gurucharan Singh has shifted the entire blame on the Sports Authority of India (SAI) saying they didn’t receive the sanctioned amount for the Berlin tournament from SAI on time and thus were unable to ‘provide it to the swimmers.’
Gurucharan, who is in London for the World Para-Athletics Championships, also claimed that PCI is still facing ‘shortage of money’ as SAI has only sanctioned Rs 33.16 lakh for the tournament while the organisers have asked for Rs 66.32 lakh. He also said that the swimmers will be reimbursed the money they were forced to spend in Berlin.
— Vijay Goel (@VijayGoelBJP) July 12, 2017
— Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) July 12, 2017
Bindra had tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sports Minister Vijay Goel in his tweet who later replied saying the money was released on his ministry’s behalf by the SAI and he is currently investigating the issue.