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Para-swimmers left handicapped

The para-swimmers for the Commonwealth Games have been left severely handicapped. Reason? The coach in-charge of the training camp, VK Dabas, surfaced at the Games Village on Tuesday even as the team checked into the complex on Saturday. To add to this, there is no manager or support staff for the 10-member team.

other Updated: Sep 29, 2010 00:08 IST
Saurabh Duggal

The para-swimmers for the Commonwealth Games have been left severely handicapped. Reason? The coach in-charge of the training camp, VK Dabas, surfaced at the Games Village on Tuesday even as the team checked into the complex on Saturday. To add to this, there is no manager or support staff for the 10-member team.

Dabas conjured up a vanishing act even better than the best magician, as he was not even visible during the final 10 days of the training camp at Bangalore.

With no support staff to take care of the team, there is utter chaos as the differently-abled athletes are fending for themselves, missing out on valuable practice just days ahead of the Games.

To add to their woes, when the team alighted at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Complex along with the able-bodied swimming team on Tuesday, they were even denied practice in the main pool, as no time slot had been allotted.

“It’s the duty of the coach and the support staff to get time slots for athletes, but in their absence, the swimmers were seen practicing in the warm-up pool,” said a team member.

Finally, in the evening session, the para-swimmers requested the able-bodied swimming coaches to accommodate them in the main pool, which they readily agreed to.

“We are like orphans here,” said a para-swimmer on condition of anonymity. “We don’t know the procedure for booking the time slots for training and it’s affecting us. We are working hard for the Games and the last-minute hiccups will, for sure, peg us back.”

“I don’t know why they are not taking us seriously. During the last camp in Bangalore, the chief coach suddenly left and assistant coach, Devinder Tomar, along with escort, Rajinder Updhway, went to Tirupati to visit the temple.”

“Someone then registered a complaint with the Sports Ministry and both Devinder and Rajinder were removed,” he added.

Dabas, who also happens to be the secretary-general of the Paralympic Swimming Association of India, arrived on Tuesday afternoon but did not accompany the team to the venue. “He is only bothered about his own post. What the swimmers are going through doesn’t seem to concern him,” said another swimmer.

Despite several calls and SMSes, Dabas could not be reached. The Paralympic Committee of India president, Rattan Singh, said, “Dabas is the only coach nominated for the team. But I have no idea whether he was there with the team or not.”