Disqualification of seven race walkers leads to protests, Palakkad cries foul
The disqualification of seven race walkers, including five boys and two girls, from the 5 km events in the junior section led to a controversy in the 57th Kerala State Schools Athletics Championship on Monday.
Three of the five athletes disqualified for “running” in the boys section were from defending champions Palakkad, including two from Government HS, Parali. The Palakkad contingent staged a protest on the third day afternoon at the Maharaja’s College Stadium alleging the organisers to be biased.
They said that it was a deliberate attempt to scuttle the chances of Palakkad athletes.
“It is a very painful thing to note that there has been a deliberate attempt to spoil the chances of Palakkad athletes,” alleged HS, Parali coach P G Manoj.
“It is a gross injustice to deny these children an opportunity to shine on this stage. This is their stage. This is from where they can hope to move up to higher levels,” said an emotional Manoj, who has overseen the growth of the school’s athletics team in the last few years.
The Parali school, two of whose athletes were among those penalised, gave the two leading schools from Ernakulam district - St George’s HSS and Mar Basil HSS - a run for their money during the first three days.
The contingent from Parali organized a protest march in the afternoon.
Led by coach Manoj, they tried to gather inside the field but were stopped by policemen near the high jump pit. Holding a placard demanding justice, they then moved around the perimeter fence. Their appeal to review the judges’ decision was rejected. The organisers, however, dismissed the allegations.
“The disqualifications were made in strict accordance with internationally recognised norms. The judges simply followed the rules. It is not only Palakkad athletes who were disqualified, but others as well. They were penalised for running. It happens sometimes when competition heats up but the rules are clear on that count. Any action not amounting to race walking is liable for disqualification without warning,” said Chacko Joseph, the Sports Organiser under the state Education Department.