If Sports Ministry had had its way, India would have returned with two medals less from the Asian Games. The ministry twice refused clearance to roller skating before, following the Roller Skating Federation of India's (RSFI) persistence, clearing it with a rider - the skaters will bear the expenses themselves.
The skaters, however, took it in their stride and won two bronze medals on Friday. Anup Kumar Yama (26) won bronze in free skating, and then teamed up with Avani Panchal (19) to win the second bronze in pair skating.
Initially, the government cleared 35 disciplines for the Games, but refused to clear roller sport, which was making its debut at the Asian Games, even at no cost to the government.
The government maintained that India stood no chance of winning a medal in this sport. But following persistent request from the RSFI and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the sport finally got the no-cost-to-government clearance.
As a result, the skaters had to bear all expenses. From buying tickets to Guangzhou and paying for the ceremonial dress, they even had to shell out USD 50 per person per day to the IOA for their stay and food at the Games Village.
The skaters had to give an undertaking to the IOA that they would pay the money after returning from the Games.
"Skaters won two medals without any support for the country. The least the government can do now is treat roller skating at par with the priority sports and sponsor it in international competitions," said one of the skaters from Guangzhou.
"It's a great moment for every skater. Now we expect support from all quarters and request the government to put roller skating in the priority list," said Arun Walia, president RSFI.
After India won a bronze medal in wushu in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, wushu was put in priority list. With roller skating giving two medals to the country, will the authorities dish out a similar treatment to this sports as well?
Even as that remains to be seen, RSFI and its Andhra Pradesh unit, from where the skaters hail, has decided to give Rs one lakh to Anup Kumar and Rs 50,000 to Avani Panchal.