A team of six Indian para-swimmers were compelled to borrow money in Berlin to compete at World Series after the Paralympic Committee Of India(PCI) failed to release the sanctioned money. But despite the setback, Kanchmala Pande, bagged the silver medal for India in the 200m individual event.
Kanchmala Pande, a para-swimmer from Nagpur, who is completely blind and competes in the S11 category shared her horrific experience with Daily Mail UK.
"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 said on Tuesday.
The funds were not the only problem that hampered the athletes' campaign, it was reported that Kanwaljeet Singh, the coach who accompanied the team abandoned them and allegedly demanded £90 (Rs 7,462) as
"He [Singh] didn't help me at all. I used to go back to the hotel just with my escort and
Abhinav Bindra, the first and only individual Gold medalist, took to Twitter to express his dismay at the incident and demanded the concerned authorities be held accountable for their actions whilst tagging Sports Minister Vijay Goel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring their attention to the issue.
PCI's indifference to the players can be perceived from the fact that they entered Pande in the 50m backstroke event which wasn't even her event.
Meanwhile, PCI vice-president Gurucharan Singh tried to defend the committee by shifting the blame on Sports Authority of India (SAI), claiming that they did not receive the sanctioned amount from SAI and were thus were unable to provide for the swimmers.
Gurucharan, who is in London for the World Para-Athletics Championships, also alleged that the SAI sanctioned only Rs 33.16 lakh for the tournament, which was far less than the Rs 66.32 lakh that the organisers of the event had asked for. Further, he also stated that the money the swimmers were forced to loan will be reimbursed.
Vijay Goel, on the other hand, took note of Bindra's tweet and replied saying that, the source of the problem will be identified while also clarifying that the funds sanctioned were indeed released by SAI.
Finally, despite the harrowing experience, Pande, the only female para-swimmer from India to qualify for the event, won a silver medal in the 200m Individual Medley and beat the qualifying mark in 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke and 100m Breaststroke.
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