Deaf girl dropped from world championship for gender?

Deaf athlete dropped from world championship due to gender?

Kanyakumari MP V Vijayakumar has written to Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur asking him to include Barwin in the list of participants

Sameeha Barwin. Credit: Twitter/@jussri

18-year-old Sameeha Barwin, a deaf athlete, has proved her mettle in 100-metre track and long jump by winning medals in three consecutive national championships. But she is understood to have been dropped from the final list of participants from India to the 4th World Deaf Athletics Championship in Poland between August 23 and 28.

The reason? She is the only female in the entourage which has five other deaf male athletes, and the All India Sports Council for the Deaf does not want to send her alone due to “logistics and other issues”, her family has alleged.

This, the girl’s family says, is despite Barwin clearing the qualifying mark of 4.25-metre in the long jump event for women in New Delhi.

The family, which hails from Kanyakumari, and Padmini Chennapragada, a disability sports researcher, allege that Barwin was forced to travel to New Delhi with four male deaf athletes and without an escort after the Tamil Nadu Sports Council of the Deaf refused to allow send some to accompany the 18-year-old girl.

“There is absolutely nothing in writing. There are no e-mails or any written communication. The video of the girl participating in the qualifying event was uploaded on YouTube and that is the only proof the family has,” Padmini Chennapragada told DH. She also added that the Tamil Nadu government should intervene in the matter and ensure that Barwin is able to gain clarity on what happened.

“The time to be considered for the event passed. But she needs to be protected for future events where she has huge potential to win medals for the state and the country,” she said.

Salamath, the girl’s mother who runs a coffee shop in Kanyakumari, alleged that said no receipt was made available to Barwin for paying the entry fee of Rs 1,000 to participate in the qualifying event.

“This is not the first time we are facing discrimination. We were not given a place to stay and food to eat when we went to Jharkhand for a national championship. My daughter is being rejected just because she is a female. She deserves to participate in the championship,” she said.

Salamath also alleged that the state association had never come to her rescue whenever she faced any discrimination. She also demanded that Chief Minister M K Stalin intervene and find out the “truth” behind her daughter not getting a chance to travel to Poland. Efforts to reach the sport associations did not fructify.

Kanyakumari MP V Vijayakumar has also written to Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur asking him to include Barwin in the list of participants for the world championship.

The MP also gave an assurance to sponsor Barwin’s trip, but there has been no reply to the letter till the time of writing even as the team is scheduled to leave for the event in Poland on August 14.