Delay on the part of the Sports Ministry in releasing funds to the country’s three elite swimmers has temporarily stalled their plans of training in Europe for the World Championships in Rome in July.
Virdhawal Khade, Commonwealth Youth Games multiple gold-medallist, Olympian Sandeep Shejwal and J. Agnishwar, along with coach Nihar Amin, were to leave for Frankfurt on Thursday on a 75-day training-cum-competition tour, but had to cancel their programme since the ministry’s clearance did not come on time.
The ministry’s International Sports Division joint secretary, Rahul Bhatnagar, accepted there had been a delay and said the swimmers would now be going on May 15. “Sometimes, getting clearance from the finance department takes time. We had asked the swimming federation to send the players at their own expense and the ministry would reimburse it,” Bhatnagar said.
Khade’s manager Hakimuddin Habibulla said the swimmers were changing their travel plans to May 15. “We should understand that programmes are planned to last detail and changes can affect a player’s performance,” he added. On not going ahead with the tour at their own cost, Hakimuddin said, “The tour would have cost between Rs 12-15 lakh per person…without any concrete assurance, it’s difficult for players to undertake the trip.”
Federation secretary Virendra Nanavati said, “We are still awaiting ministry clearance.”
This is the second time the ministry has stalled clearance of the team. “Earlier, the plan was to go and train from April till the World Championships. But the ministry told us that only a 75-day tour could be cleared, so we rescheduled the trip,” said a source.
The players are now waiting for Wednesday’s meeting of the ministry to know their fate.