India’s para shuttlers shut out of Asian meet due to late entries

  • Young woman player Palak Kohli pleads with organisers in vain, Paralympic Committee of India says delay happened as officials could select team only after the Tokyo Paralympics
Pramod Bhagat, Palak Kohli(REUTERS)
Pramod Bhagat, Palak Kohli(REUTERS)
Published on Oct 05, 2021 08:03 PM IST
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Instead of going home on her return from the Tokyo Paralympics last month, top Indian woman para-shuttler Palak Kohli came to Lucknow for training. She wanted to prepare well for the 4th Asian Youth Para Games, scheduled in Bahrain from December 1-10.

Her dream of winning a medal there crashed on Monday night when she came to know that her entry along with that of 13 others has been rejected by the organisers as it was “sent late” by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).

A disheartened Kohli has pleaded with those concerned, including the event organisers, to allow the entries as this would be the last opportunity for many like her to participate in an under-20 event.

“There is only one Asian event for junior para-athletes @Asianyouthgame held once in 4 years. This event may be the first and last for many of us since we cross the age limit next time. Very disheartening to know "Entries not sent" Appeal to @asianparalympic. Pl care for us,” Kohli had tweeted on Thursday.

Kohli, who was the only Indian woman shuttler to participate in three events in Tokyo, is 19 and won’t be eligible for the Asian Youth Para Games in 2024.

“I have requested everyone, including the organisers, for the entry even now. Why should I suffer for others’ mistake? The last date of entry was September 21, and from the very next day I have been running from pillar to post to get an entry at the event,” Kohli, who has six international medals, including gold at the 2019 BWF Para-Badminton International, said on Tuesday.

“I am very disappointed and frustrated but still keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for a last-minute entry.”

PCI issued a circular for selection trials only on Sept 19 though the final for sending entries was Sept 21. The Bahrain organisers had extended the deadline twice, from Sept 10 to 15 and then to Sept 21. There are some claims that the entries were forwarded to PCI by the Badminton Association of India (BAI), which oversees para-badminton in India on deadline day, but it was not forwarded in time.

The PCI says it’s all over as the organisers have refused to entertain Indian entries at the event. “Entry isn’t possible now as the organisers have denied,” PCI secretary-general Gursharan Singh said on Tuesday.

“There was little time left for trials, etc. after coming back from the Tokyo Paralympics. The PCI insisted that the organisers extend the last date, but they didn’t. Even China missed the entry; we also missed the entry for taekwondo,” he said.

Singh said: “We should have been allowed enough time to send entries. Now, they (organisers) are overburdened with more than 1,000 entries for the games. They have a shortage of accommodation due to COVID protocols, etc.”

He denied there was any “differences” with BAI, after some athletes accused PCI of a “biased” attitude towards the shuttlers. “Both PCI and BAI are very cooperative and there is no dispute between us. BAI too didn’t send the players’ list on time as they too didn’t have time for trials, etc. after the Tokyo Paralympics.”

Singh said: “PCI didn’t want the shuttlers to suffer and it’s very unfortunate. I kept trying my best till late last evening and even talked to the Asian Paralympic Council chief, but it didn’t work. For sure, we will send our shuttlers for the world championships and other events in the near future.”

The Asian Youth Para Games will feature competition in nine disciplines—athletics, badminton, boccia, goalball, taekwondo, powerlifting, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair basketball at Khalifa Sports City, a multi-use stadium in Isa Town, and Isa Sports City, the national indoor sports facility in Bahrain.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021