Just when the entire nation was celebrating the spectacular achievements of Indian athletes at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, a Tamil Nadu-based female athlete was dropped from participating at the 4th World Deaf Athletics Championship in Poland.
Reason? No one else from the women's category had qualified for the event and she could not be sent with the other five male athletes to the foreign country. According to the athlete's family, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) also cited a shortage of funds as one of the reasons.
Sameeha Barwin (18), hailing from the Kadayalumoodu area of the Kanyakumari district, is a long jump and 100-metre track athlete. Sameeha has 90 per cent hearing impairment. She has bagged gold medals at three national athletic championships for deaf athletes held in Jharkhand in 2017, Chennai in 2018, and Calicut in 2019, The News Minute reported.
According to media reports, Sameeha was just 6-years-old when she was diagnosed with a terrible fever which led to her disability but it could not hinder her interest in sports.
Instead, she started participating in district and state-level long jump and high jump competitions and went on to win plenty of nationally acclaimed junior competitions for the deaf. Over time, she also qualified to participate in the 2020 National Junior Olympics for the deaf and hard of hearing. However, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
SAI Drops Her Name
Sameeha cleared the 5 m mark during the New Delhi trials in 2019 in the long jump event for women. On July 16, 2021, the All India Sports Council for the Deaf (AISCD) announced national selection trials for the 4th World Deaf Athletics Championships. Along with Sameeha, five other athletes from Tamil Nadu and overall 12 athletes participated in the qualifying round.
While Sameeha was the only female athlete to make the cut and get selected for the Poland championships, which is scheduled to be held between August 23 and 28, the Sports Authority of India allegedly decided to drop her name.
Shocking For The Family
The decision has shocked the young athlete as well as her parents. Despite the dire economic situation, they have provided all the facilities, her parents alleged.
"The authorities have decided not to take my daughter to the competition as she is the only one from India who has qualified in the women's category. The SAI has also said that she couldn't be sent due to shortage of funds," Salamath, Sameeha's mother told The News Minute.
Meanwhile, V Vijayakumar, MP of the Kanyakumari constituency, has written a letter to the Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur requesting him to include Sameeha in the Poland squad. However, no action has been taken yet, her parents alleged. Reportedly, the team representing India is set to leave for Poland on August 14.
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