India’s most successful para-swimmer Prasanta Karmakar won’t be going to the Paralympics in London, starting on Wednesday. There is a sense of disappointment after being eclipsed by a younger swimmer in the race for qualifying for the event. But Karmakar seemed more peeved at the ‘sudden cold shoulder’ given by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
That has suddenly prompted a fit of gripe from Karmakar, who at 31 isn’t quite sure of having one last go at the Paralympics in four years’ time.India had just one quota place in swimming at London. It however, went to Sharath Gayakwad after the 21-year-old achieved the ‘A’ level mark in 100m breaststroke when he won bronze at the 2010 para-Asian Games. When Karmakar won bronze in 50m freestyle at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, he had achieved the ‘B’ standard, missing the ‘A’ mark by 0.24 seconds. He went on to win a bronze in 200m individual medley and silver in 50m freestyle at the 2010 para Asian Games.
Karmakar, however, feels he could have been given the berth ahead of Gayakwad. “I know Gayakwad is a young swimmer but he has just got a bronze. I have far more experience than him, and also more medals,” Karmakar told HT. “And the worse part is I wasn’t even informed about the decision. I suddenly heard that he had been sent to Australia for training. That was the confirmation that he had been chosen,” he said.
“What hurt me was the way I was suddenly discarded. I was working very hard for the Paralympics since 2008. I trained under the best coaches, got the best doctors and physios who are associated with Akhil Kumar and Sushil Kumar,” said Karmakar.
Born in Kolkata but based in Haryana, Karmakar had been given a job in the police department as sub-inspector. But the swimmer resigned after he was promised a job in the Haryana sports department as swimming coach.
“The police job no doubt was a cushy one but it also meant I could be transferred occasionally. I wanted to contribute in swimming and hence approached the Haryana government who promised me a job,” said Karmakar.
Jobless right now, Karmakar is hoping the offer would materialise soon. “But I can’t complain. Most of the promises have been kept, including the Indian government giving equal rewards to all medal winners at the Commonwealth Games,” said Karmakar.
But not being able to participate in the Paralympics has affected him most. “That was the only medal missing in my cabinet. Now at 31, I don’t know if I can wait for another four years.”