No PRC athlete at London Paralympics beginning today

Centre cries foul,blames national body,faulty selection.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Published: August 29, 2012 5:02:51 am

Centre cries foul,blames national body,faulty selection

The Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) is upset that for the second time in two Paralympics,none of its athletes has made it to the national squad.

Two PRC athletes went to the Athens 2004 Paralympics,but none to Beijing in 2008. There is no PRC athlete in the six-member Indian contingent — two swimmers,two powerlifters and two athletes — at the London Paralympics beginning tomorrow.

“Eight of our athletes went to Bangalore for selection trials in December. Four — K N Reddy,R P More,Shyamal Raju and N B Gurung — were informed that they had been shortlisted. They returned to PRC and were waiting for the call-up for the national training camp,but the call never came,” PRC director Dr (Lt Col retd) S P Jyoti said.

PRC is run by the Indian Army to rehabilitate defence forces personnel who become paraplegics or tetraplegics following spinal cord injuries. PRC athletes have so far won three gold,13 silver and five bronze in international events.

Selections for the Paralympic Games are controlled by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). Athletes and the PRC management feel the selection process is flawed.

“The PCI was dissolved in February-March 2011,and reconstituted only in August. We still do not know why the four people selected in Bangalore were never called to the training camp in Delhi,” A D Pareira,PRC stores clerk who was present at the selection trials,said.

Para-archer Amol Boriwale,who was sponsored by Sachin Tendulkar,went to Italy for the world championship in July 2011. “I could not qualify (for the London Paralympics) then,but could have done so at the world ranking event in Thailand in February this year. But I could not go because PCI sent no names for the qualifiers,” he said.

Arjuna awardee para-athlete Malathi Holla said the fact that there is no specific category for paraplegics at the Paralympics was keeping paraplegic athletes from being selected. “World over,polio is eradicated. As a result,there is lesser participation by wheelchair-bound athletes. The international committee gives the least importance to wheelchair-bound athletes,” Holla said.

Paralympic committee official C V Raghunath said PRC athletes had failed to meet the criteria to qualify. “Para-athletes must meet minimum qualification criteria laid down by the International Paralympic Committee,and PRC athletes have not qualified.”

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