SAI assures support for para athletes

Sports Authority of India (SAI) has assured the para-athletes that it would make arrangements for their trials in the wake of suspension of Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) and provide the requisite support in their bid to qualify for the 2016 Rio Paralympics,

SAI Director General Injeti Srinivas met the para-athetes on Thursday and assured them their interests would be taken care of. Devendra Jhajharia (javelin throw), Amit Saroha (discus throw), Balwan Singh (athletics), Dilraj Kaur (shooting), Prashant Kamarkar (swimming) were among those present in the meeting.

Srinivas also revealed that nine para-athletes have been selected for the Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS) and five-six more are on a watch-list but said: "I cannot reveal their names yet." Following the suspension of PCI by International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Sports Ministry had directed the SAI to take care of the interests of the athletes. The meeting was called to address their concerns.

"A roadmap regarding the quota berths for Rio meet was discussed and the concerns of the athletes of various disciplines were put forward. The meeting was fruitful," said veteran athlete Deepa Malik. The athletes on their part wanted better facilities, equipments, and opportunities to compete at international events to better their rankings and secure Olympic berths which the SAI has promised them to provide. Srinivas, however, mentioned the budgetary constraints and also highlighted the rankings and merit of a sportsperson as the criteria to fund their training and participation at the international events.

"We have to go by the budget. I will try to enhance it but we should try and keep within (the amount). There would be no favouritism from SAI, we have our standards, but rankings and world-standing of an athlete will be taken into account before sending him/her to international events," said Srinivas.

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