Last year when Parul Gupta made it to the 22nd Summer Deaf Olympics Games,to be held from July 22 in Sofia,Bulgaria,it seemed she had accomplished one of long cherished dreams: to represent India at the highest stage. Several months have passed since then and now Parul once again finds herself back to square one. Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) decision to restrict the Indian entries in the Deaflympics due to lack of funds has hit many players,including Parul,and now they are on the verge of missing out on the games.
Parul,from Patiala,is a talented tennis player who despite being hearing-impaired,has carved a name for herself on the tennis circuit with her consistent performances. Born deaf by birth,Parul has been raking in medals in National School Games and National Deaf Games. So,when her dreams were cut short by SAI’s decision,it left many hearts broken,Parul’s father,Avinash Gupta,included.
“My daughter practiced a whole year for this competition but at the eleventh hour she was dropped,” said the dejected father.
As per the entries for tennis,SAI was supposed to send four men and and an equal number of women for the doubles and mixed team events besides the singles’ competition. But now only four players,including two men and two women have been finalised.
Parul,16,made few heads turn when she claimed silver in under-17 age category in tennis during the National School Games held last year. Earlier,this year,she finished at the top of the podium in the National Deaf Games.
“My daughter played eight nationals. She is playing tennis for the last ten years and her only aim is to represent country in an international event,but now it is shattered. She has decided not to play in future,” said Avinash.
Initially SAI had to send a contingent of over 50 athletes in eight different disciplines for the games but during the final selection,the list was pruned to 21 members,including seven of the coaching staff,reducing the players number to just 14.
“I am willing to pay from my pocket,but at the same time I want every player must get a fair chance,” he said.
“I made best of efforts to convince SAI about my daughter’s participation,but of no avail,” he said.
After parents of the athletes objected to the last minute pruning,SAI claimed that it was done due to “non approval of budget” for the players.
Equally adept at badminton,Parul underwent an operation last year but she successfully came out of the surgery and blazed the court. She impressed all with her hard-hitting performance during the 1st Dosti Cup that was played between India and Pakistan,where Parul bagged top positions in all the age categories in badminton. Apart from silver in National School Games (u-17) held in Delhi,Parul also added a bronze to her name during the 57th Punjab State School Games for girls (u-17) in Ropar. She hit top form during her gold-winning effort in the national-level tournament held in Chennai in 2010-2011.
(With inputs from PTI)