‘My heart is with India, please let it stay that way’
Indian swimmers do not compete for money. We barely make any. I would be happy to take on an Indian passport if I had the financial means to support myself here and got permission to train in the USA, writes Ankur Poseria.india Updated: Dec 29, 2008 23:18 IST
To whom it may concern,
My name is Ankur Poseria. I am an Olympic swimmer who proudly represented India at the Beijing Olympic Games, 2008 World Championships, 2007 World Championships and 2006 Asian Games. I am an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and currently live and train in California. As per the new policy, my career as an Indian sportsperson is finished. I write to request that you reconsider the policy barring OCIs from competing.
I am one of the fastest swimmers of Indian origin and currently hold the top time among them in 100m butterfly. As a 21-year-old, I am poised to improve significantly and bring laurels to India. I am part of a four-man team that can be the fastest relay team for India at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. By denying me the ability to compete, you are denying me the motivation to improve and succeed as an international sportsman. I chose to swim for India because I love my family and culture. I am fast enough to have been an Olympian for countries like Britain, China, Korea, and Canada. But my heart is with India and I wish to keep it that way.
Indian swimmers do not compete for money. We barely make any. I would have been happy to take on an Indian passport had I the financial means to support myself here and got permission to train in the USA. But US visa rules do not permit me to do that. Additionally, my parents have just gone through a divorce and will be unable to fund me. As a result, I am currently seeking sponsors. To leave for India would further destroy my family because my sister and I are the glue that holds it together.
An Indian passport would limit the amount of time I can spend at the best training facilities in the world, and deny me the benefits that have got me this far. Facts show that Indian Olympic swimmers have chosen to train outside when possible in order to get the best training.
An Indian passport would require me to return from the US after my graduation in spring 2009. Is this what's best for Indian Olympic sports? I currently train with Dave Salo, a coach whose swimmers won more medals in Bejiing than India has won over the past three Olympics in all sports combined. Because of my OCI status, I am able to stay in the US and train with him full time. Other foreign nationals can only stay temporarily and get short bursts of training with elite coaches like Salo. It makes the process of attaining the highest performance much more difficult.
I wish to continue to represent India. Please reconsider your policy. For my sake, my family's and for the greater future of Indian sport.
Indian, Olympian, Student, Brother, Son
First Published: Dec 29, 2008 23:16 IST