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President Deepa Malik defends PCI, says it was athletes’ choice

In a shocking incident on Wednesday, the para-athletes had to compete in shot put event late in the evening without flood lights at the Kanteerava Stadium here.

Published: 26th March 2021 09:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2021 09:04 AM   |  A+A-

Discus throwers at the para nationals in Bengaluru on Thursday | Vinod Kumar T

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Now, it has become a tussle between the athletes and the organisers. After an embarrassing first day where athletes were forced to compete under mobile and vehicle lights, the Paralympic Committee of India is defending its decision and blaming the athletes for making “a choice”.  In a shocking incident on Wednesday, the para-athletes had to compete in shot put event late in the evening without floodlights at the Kanteerava Stadium here.

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However, on Thursday, PCI president Deepa Malik is blaming the athletes for the fiasco. She, however, did acknowledge it to be embarrassing.  “The incident last night took place because the athletes had to go and play in another stadium (next day). We gave them an option and asked if they wanted to redo the event. They said no. It is they, who wanted to finish that event,” Malik pointed out.  Interestingly, one of the athletes, who competed in the dark, did not agree and said that no one told them about the ‘redo option’.

Malik insisted that athletes were given an option. “I understand it is embarrassing but I had given an open thing to the athletes that whoever was not comfortable at night, they can perform today (Thursday).” Malik said it was the athletes’ wish. “Maybe that was not their main event, track was their main event,” she said. “They forced us to have that.”  Interestingly, it is understood Malik was not present at the spot when the event transpired as she was chairing PCI AGM meeting in a city hotel between 6-10pm.

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The nationals was held at two venues, Kanteerava Stadium (field events) and Vidyanagar Stadium (track events). The unfortunate event happened at the former, which did not have floodlight facilities because of renovation, claimed Malik. “To be honest, we were also not prepared that the competition would last for so long,” she said. The Day one schedule says a different story. The PCI website had set a 6.15 pm start to an event on its schedule.

There is no clarity on whether this nationals would act as an Olympic qualifying event either. Even the PCI president indicated that this is more of a reality check. “We can’t call it qualification as of now. Once we get the complete quota allocation, then we will have the final trials under the aegis of Sports Authority of India. This will give us the opportunity to know how they have fared. The borderline athletes also need to show their talent.”



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