Para-athlete P. Rajathi is the sole earning member of her family. For the past year though, she’s been on leave without pay, busy training for the Commonwealth Games.
But on Thursday morning, the day of her event — the women’s 100m race — her world came crashing down. She discovered that her name was not on the list.
Rajathi is a regular in the T-37 category (in paralympic sport, each event is categorised according to the level of disability) but a couple of days ago, the classification committee of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) classified her as a T-44 — a category that is not there in these Games.
However, the manager of the Indian para-contingent gave a representation on Rajathi’s behalf, presenting evidence that she had been competing in the T-37 category for the last couple of years.
In addition, the IPC had even classified her in the T-37 during last year’s World IWAS Games in Bangalore, while last month, she competed in the England Open in the same category.
“I was told by the manager that the international committee had agreed I could participate in the T-37 category. But when I checked the start list this morning, my name was missing,” said the inconsolable Rajathi. “I now have nothing left. All my hard work and dreams have gone down the drain.”
Apparently, the IPC didn’t give her the go-ahead. “I made a personal request to the IPC but they didn’t agree,” said Ratan Singh, president of the Paralympic Committee of India.
“They classified her in the T-37 category in Bangalore last year themselves, so I don’t know why they are adamant that she cannot be in that category now.”
In the morning, the IPC agreed to put her in the T-37 category, on the condition she produced a certificate stating that that her disability was from birth.
“I belong to a village and there is no way I could have got the certificate here on time,” said Rajathi, walking away.
“The PCI should have done the medical tests before the event and categorized the players earlier,” said another para-athlete.
“Who will give her back the year she’s lost, and her dreams?”