It is not new for us to hear of the carelessness shown by sports authorities towards athletes. Sometimes it is the lack of facilities, while other times it is the finances. But things went really far this time when a para-athlete found herself stranded in a foreign land without the promised financial aid.
Kanchanmala Pande, completely devoid of eyesight, was visiting Berlin to participate in the Para-Swimming Championship. Little did she know that the next few days of her life will be spent asking for money from strangers in the country because the government money sanctioned for the tour never arrived.
This seems like a case of apathy from the government and the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). Kanchanmala from Nagpur swims in the S 11 category and was in Germany from July 3- July 9. She had to take a loan of Rs. 5 lakh to participate in the tournament. She informed Mail Today,
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. Moreover, they put my name in 50m Backstroke when it was never my event. I had to write letters to the International Paralympic Committee when a coach was appointed to take care of the swimmers.
The horror story doesn’t end here as the swimmers had to arrange their own visas which cost them around Rs. 15,000. To add to their misery, Kanwaljeet Singh, assigned by PCI to para-swimmers, was mostly absent during the tournament and asked for the participation fee of Rs. 7, 462.
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 pounds (about Rs 10,000).
Meanwhile, the blame game started to unfold as the PCI holds the Sports Authority of India responsible for the debacle. Abhinav Bindra, the Olympic gold medalist, has expressed disappointment at the incident. However, he received a quick reply from BJP’s Vijay Goel. Mahesh Bhupathi and Somdev Devvarman have also tweeted.
— Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) July 12, 2017
I’ve instructed my Ministry to verify the facts of this epsiode and then comment on the matter. https://t.co/1jPUIEUuHw
— Vijay Goel (@VijayGoelBJP) July 12, 2017
— Mahesh Bhupathi (@Maheshbhupathi) July 12, 2017
Horrible stuff to read… Changes need to be made in the way we perceive sport and the way we run it… The current system is a shame… https://t.co/rzGVuypIam
— Somdev Devvarman (@SomdevD) July 12, 2017
Kanchanmala was inspired by the outstanding performance of India at Rio’s Paralympics last year. Despite all the hurdles, she won a silver medal and qualified for the world championship.