At the recently concluded Deaflympics, the Indian contingent won a total of five medals at the tournament. This has been their best ever performance at the Deaflympics.
Despite no media coverage, the contingent of 46 gave their all to win their medals. As is evident, all participants have had to face and overcome serious odds in their life to get to where they are. It is only fitting that they should be on an equal footing as the rest of the athletes of our country when it comes to recognition and respect. But as the contingent understood today, this was clearly not the case.
In a heartbreaking development earlier today, the contingent announced that they were considering returning their medals after being snubbed by the Sports Ministry.
Ketan Shah, the interpreter for the team, said that the Sports Minister ignored the athletes despite them repeatedly reaching out to them. Even after landing in Delhi Airport, the contingent reportedly tried getting in touch with the concerned officials who would put their message across to the Sports Minister but to no avail.
“We celebrate the success of the Olympics players and even Paralympics athletes then why can’t we give the same recognition to these players. This is our best ever show in Deaflympics including a gold medal which is the best ever performance by India,” Shah told ANI
According to Shah, an official email had already been dropped to Sports Minister Vijay Goel and the Director General of SAI. The email in question was sent on the morning of July 25 but it failed to initiate a response from either of the two officials.
“We had emailed them and informed them on July 25 itself that we will be coming on August 1 but we haven’t got any reply. Since morning, we have been calling them and no one is ready to entertain us. No one is here to greet or meet the players and it’s a bit let down for the team,” Shah added.
Wrestler Virender Singh bagged a Gold in the 74 kg Freestyle event while fellow wrestlers Sumit Dahiya and Ajay Kumar won the bronze medals in 65kg freestyle and 97 kg Freestyle categories. 16-year old Diksha Dagar clinched a silver in Golf while India’s fifth medal came in mixed doubles tennis courtesy Prithvi Sekhar and Jafreen Shaik.
While people in the country are unaware of the existence of a tournament like the Deaflympics, a bit more responsibility on the part of the Sports Ministry is both required and expected. The fact that these athletes were snubbed the way they were is certainly disheartening.
Update: The players have since been felicitated. Shri Injeti Srinivas from the SAI personally extended his gratitude to the athletes for their fortitude. During the ceremony, the delegates also stated that National Camps at Gandhinagar went a long way in honing the athletes to present their best performance at the Deaflympics. The support of SAI towards Special sports was also stressed upon.