If proof was needed that the Sports Ministry's talent search scheme for sending promising athletes abroad for training has more than a few loopholes, it was provided by veteran grappler Kripa Shankar Patil.
The 55kg freestyle wrestler, an aspirant for the Doha Asian Games, lost miserably to the upcoming Vinod Kumar in the semi-finals of the open trials for Doha despite returning from a five-week training stint in Colorado Springs, the United States, recently.
That's not all. The Railway grappler had suffered a bout of Chikungunya before he went to the US and was not even in a position to train competitively.
"I got Chikungunya before I went to the US and my joints still ache," Patil said on Thursday. "The disease has sapped me. That is why I lost so badly in the trials for the Asian Games today."
Railways' chief coach Gyan Singh, when asked whether Patil had submitted a fitness certificate to the Sports Ministry or the Sports Authority of India (SAI), said he took ill after he had submitted the application for training in the Sports Ministry.
In retrospect, a sum of about Rs six lakhs was spent on the wrestler by the Ministry not knowing whether he was fit to go or not. A SAI official, when contacted, said that Patil did not disclose his condition to us.
In fact, all four freestyle grapplers - Patel, Shokinder Tomar (66kg), Rakesh Patel (96) and Ramesh Bhura (74) - who had gone on talent search scheme abroad could not make it to the Asian Games squad. Busan Asiad bronze-medallist Palwinder Cheema had it easy in the 120kg category in the absence of Rajiv Tomar who is down with dengue.
Asian Games squad:
Freestyle: Vinod Kumar (55kg), Yogeshwar Dutt (60), Sushil Kumar (66), Narsingh Yadav (74), Anuj Kumar (84), Narinder (96), Palwinder Cheema (120). Graeco-Roman: Vinayak Dalvi (55), Ravinder (60), BS Patil (66), Sanjay (74), Manoj (84), Anil (96), Dharmender (120).
Freestyle: Neha Rathi (48), Alka Tomar (55), Geetika Jakhar (63), Sonika Kaliraman (72).