A week after 18-year-old long jumper Sameeha Barwin was allegedly dropped for the World Deaf Athletics Championship, the Madras High Court issued an interim order and directed the All India Sports Council of the Deaf (AISCD) to permit the young athlete to participate in the competition to be held at Lublin, Poland from August 23-28.
Sameeha had moved the High Court alleging gender discrimination by the Sports Authority of India (SAI). She was allegedly dropped from the team as 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, SAI had also cited a shortage of funds as one of the reasons.
Efforts Not To Be Overlooked
Justice R Mahadevan, while issuing the order, said that Sameeha's efforts could not be overlooked. "If we look at the previous records of the petitioner, she had bagged 11 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze in many state and national events. This achievement cannot be ignored," he said, as quoted by The Indian Express.
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.
Petition In The Court
"It was the petitioner who stood first in the female category. Therefore, the petitioner ought to have been selected by the respondents so that she could make the country proud by taking part in the 4th World Deaf Athletics Championship," the court said.
The order noted that the President of the Paralympic Committee of India was contacted by Sameeha's counsel, wherein he was told that the issue would be taken up for hearing soon. However, no representative appeared on behalf of the committee.
A representative who appeared for the Ministry of Youth and Sports said the ministry will abide by the court's order, but it is for the committee to recommend the names. Meanwhile, the favourable order triggered celebrations in the young athlete's town in Kanyakumari, where people distributed sweets.