Wednesday, June 16, 2010

வெட்கக் கேடு!

The first thing that the Indian team of swimmers with disabilities headed for an international swimming tournament in Germany will have to do is to start hunting for swimming costumes as soon as they reach Berlin on Tuesday. The tournament starts on Thursday, leaving them with just over a day to hunt for their costumes.

None of the swimmers who are to compete in the International German Swimming Open for disabled athletes in Berlin from June 17-20 have the appropriate swimsuits approved by the international swimming federation without which they will not be allowed to even enter the pool.

The Fidiration Internationale de Natation or FINA, which sets standards in international aquatic sports, had made it mandatory for all competitors to wear FINA approved costumes from January this year. Over five months later, the Paralympic Swimming Federation of India has still not been able to procure the required costumes for the swimmers.

"We had given a proposal to the government for buying the costumes in April. The sports ministry took so long over it that the costumes could not be bought. But that is not a problem, because now the ministry has asked us to buy it in Berlin.There are two big swimming stores", said Dr VK Dabas, secretary of the Paralympic Swimming Federation of India.

Even the money for the trip was made available to the team only on Monday, the day they left for the swimming meet. While the ministry, the federation and the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) are busy passing the buck for this fiasco, the athletes are tense as they are not even sure they will be able to procure the costume before the competition starts.

"Though the Indian swimming team comprises just six members, the federation plans to buy costumes which are not too expensive, about Rs 3,000-5,000, which the federation believes should be good enough. The best costumes cost about Rs 23,000 each or over Rs 1.3 lakh for the entire team. Considering that the Commonwealth Games and the Para Asian Games too are coming up soon, why cant they plan for the future and buy the best?" asked a swimmer.

The Berlin event starts on Thursday, leaving the disabled swimmers with just over a day to hunt for their costumes.

-Rema Nagarajan TIMES INSIGHT GROUP, TOI, Bangalore Edition

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