After missing out on the list of sportspersons selected under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang is mulling leaving the country and representing Italy. Davinder, who shot to fame after becoming the first Indian to qualify for the javelin final at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, is worried about his poor financial condition and subsequent worry of going bankrupt.
In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Davinder revealed that he is considering shifting his base from India to represent Italy if his name is not included in the TOPS list as he cannot afford any more loans. “I am facing a debt of more than seven lakh rupees. I am worried about being exhausted of money. An Italian academy, (CUS Parma, CNU – Campionati Nazionali Universitari) – has offered me a contract equivalent to rupees 12.80 lakh per month. However, I will have to represent Italy. It is not something that I want but if there is no development in the current situation after two weeks, I will quit India and represent Italy.”
The Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) committee recently added names of 107 athletes who will be supported for the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2018 and a few for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, when Davinder saw the list he was shell-shocked. “I could not believe my eyes when I saw the list on my cellphone. I was befuddled and shocked. I do not want to name any one but some of the athletes featuring in the list have never even qualified for a world championship. How do they deserve a spot and I don’t? It was grossly unfair and I want to know the reason behind my omission from the list,” the Inter-Services meet record holder exclaimed.
Davinder also said he has approached the sports ministry but is yet to receive any response. However, he remains hopeful that someone will sit up and take notice. At the upcoming National Open Athletics Championships (beginning on September 25), Davinder promises to put in yet another effort that will force the committee to reconsider. “Maybe, they are not satisfied with my achievements so far. Hence, I promise to break the national record which will surely make them sit up and take notice. If still nothing happens, then after two weeks I will have no option but to take Italian citizenship,” the 28-year-old said.
Debts running to lakhs
So why has Davinder been pushed to the limit? While the javelin thrower has a job in the Army (as a Junior Commissioned Officer), it is insufficient to meet his expenses. “I have a job in the Army as a JCO, but that is hardly enough. My kit itself is worth Rs 10,000 to 12,000. A t-shirt costs Rs 2,000-3,000. Where will I find so much money? When I qualified for the World Championships in May, I borrowed spikes from my fellow competitor because I had no money to buy the spikes.”
It may be recalled that Davinder qualified for the World Championships in London with a throw of 84.57m. Revealing that his debts have run into several lakhs of rupees, Davinder said,”I borrowed money from my friends before going to the World Championships. My dad took a loan and I owe 4-and-a-half lakh rupees to my supplement provider. I can’t keep doing this forever because sooner or later, I will go bankrupt.”
When asked if he would feel sorry if he had to leave India, the Jalandhar lad said, “What can I do? I love my country, I love to wear the Indian jersey but I can’t go bankrupt. My country also needs to support me when I need it the most. Had I wanted to settle for a national medal, I would have not incurred such expenses. But I want to win a gold medal for India, for which you have to incur expenses. I am not a beggar. I believe that practice can make you succeed, but sometimes reality is a harsh. We need to accept that too. I don’t want a lot from the Indian government, all I want is some money so that I settle all my debts. I hope they take notice and do something before it is too late,” Davinder concluded.