Deaf lawn tennis player cries foul over SAI`s decision

Chandigarh: Sports Authority of India`s (SAI) decision to restrict the Indian entries in the 22nd Deaflympics due to lack of funds has hit many players who have been robbed of an opportunity to represent the country at the quadrennial event starting in Sofia, Bulgaria from July 22.

One such case is Parul Gupta, a tennis player with hearing disability, who is on the verge of missing out the 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," Avinash Gupta, Parul`s father said here.
"My daughter practiced a whole year for this competition but at the eleventh hour she was dropped," a dejected father said.

Sixteen-year-old Parul, who is deaf by birth, had won a silver medal in under-17 events of School Games Federation of India (SGFI) in 2012. At the National Deaf Games earlier this year, she got first position in the competition.

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.

"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.

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.

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.

However, SAI officials could not be contacted for comment despite repeated attempts.