With no money left in kitty, para-athlete Kanchanmala Pande wins silver
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With no money left in kitty, para-athlete Kanchanmala Pande wins silver

Kanchanmala Pande and five others were in Berlin for the Para-Swimming Championships but hardly got support from Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). Nonetheless, she and Suyash Jadhav ended up with two medals.

other sports Updated: Jul 12, 2017 23:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kanchanmala Pande,Para-Swimming Championships,Suyash Jadhav
Kanchanmala Pande and Suyash Yadav have both won medals at Para-Swimming Championships in Berlin(Facebook/Vinod Deshmukh)

Often, tales are told of people who beat all the odds to reach the top. The success stories are what make them an inspiration, an idol to follow and instills encouragement for the rest. For para-athletes Kanchanmala Pande and Suyash Jadhav, it’s almost a similar story; apart from that they had to go beyond than simply beating opponents in the pool.

Jadhav and Pande both picked up silver medals, while the latter went a notch ahead to become the only Indian to qualify for the World Para Swimming Championships later this year. Pande is completely blind and swims in the S-11 category but was shocked to find the kind of facilities that had been in place for them at the German capital.

Pande has been granted sponsorship by the government, but she hadn’t received the money. “I never thought I would face such problems. I had to take a loan of Rs 5 lakh so that I could participate in the tournament,” she was quoted as saying to Daily Mail.

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“I had to qualify for the World Championships and I don’t know why Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) didn’t understand its importance. I was not given any official confirmation if I will receive a reimbursement for the expense I bore. I had to pay around Rs 70,000 (£844) for the hotel and more than Rs 40,000 (£482) for food.”

The harrowing experience didn’t just end with the crunch in funds. A day before her event, Pande also found that she had been slotted for the 50m backstroke category while she wanted to take part in the 100m slab.

To make matters worse, they had to arrange for their own visas as well, which had cost them another 12,000. The coach, who had been assigned by the PCI was also of little help for the athletes.

“He (Kanwalijeet Singh) didn’t help me at all. I used to go back to the hotel just with my escort and god knows where he used to be. Once, I took a tram from the tournament venue to my hotel and I had no money. I had to travel without ticket and was caught by the checker who later fined me £120 (about Rs 10,000),” Kanchanmala said, before adding that they had to pay Singh around £90 (Rs 7,462) as ‘participating fees’.

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Pande maintained that she nearly had no money left at one point and had to borrow it from her friends to meet the expenses abroad.

According to Mail Today, however, PCI vice-president Gurucharan Singh has stated that the athletes would be refunded their amount while alleging that the Sports Association of India hadn’t sanctioned the sum.

“’I am here in London for the World Athletics Championship and we are also facing a shortage of money. SAI sanctioned just £40,000 (Rs 33.16 lakh) while the organisers are asking for £80,000 (Rs 66.32 lakh),” Singh alleged.

First Published: Jul 12, 2017 15:25 IST