Even as the nation is celebrating the Olympic medals won by Indian athletes, including female sportspersons, a deaf athlete has been allegedly denied the opportunity to participate in an international event because she is the sole female athlete qualified from India. According to reports, track and field athlete Sameeha Barwin has been dropped by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) from the Indian contingent at the 4th World Deaf Athletics Championships to be held from August 23-28 in Poland.
Reportedly, Sameeha Barwin is the sole female athlete in the Indian team, and the SAI is unwilling a lone girl with 5 male athletes who have qualified for the event. According to the family members of the athlete, even though her records exceed the qualifying criteria for the championships in Poland, the All India Sports Council of the Deaf (AISCD) told them that the SAI has refused to include her in the Indian contingent.
While the qualifying criteria for high jump and long jump for females are 1.4 meter and 4.25 meters in the event, Sameeha had achieved 1.45 meters in high jump and 4.75 meters in long jump in the 2019 national deaf games.
Later in July 2021, the AISCD held a national selection trial for the World Championships in Poland, where 12 hearing-impaired athletes had participated. There were two female contenders, including Sameeha. As the other women failed to qualify, the SAI officials allegedly decided to drop Sameeha also as she would have been the lone female member in the Indian contingent.
Her mother Salamath told media, “I was told that they cannot send my daughter alone as she is only a female athlete and also arrangements cannot be made for an escort due to shortage of funds.”
According to Twitter user Chennapragada who talked to Sameeha’s mother, at the end of the national selection trials, the organisers told her in sign language, ‘better luck next time. You can go next time,’ informing her that she is not going to Poland this time. The Twitter user said that the Sameeha and her family members were not given proof that SAI is actually responsible for dropping her for the championships, as she was informed about the same only by the All India Sports Council of the Deaf.
The Twitter user said that the state officials have been avoiding the calls of the athlete’s mother ever since she was informed about dropping her on July 22.
The state officials of the Council have asked the athlete the accept the decision allegedly taken by SAI. According to the officials, there were not enough funds to send an escort with the athlete. The family members of the athlete tried to get her back in the time, but they couldn’t.
Kanyakumari MP V Vijayakumar wrote to union sports minister Anurag Thakur to intervene in the matter. He even said that funds for an escort can be arranged through sponsors, but allegedly no response was received from the union ministry.