Indian Paralympic table tennis player Suvarna Raj has come out in support of para-powerlifter Sakina Khatun, who was snubbed for the Commonwealth Games 2018 in the Gold Coast, Australia.
Sakina, who is the only Indian para-athlete to clinch a medal at the Commonwealth Games – bronze in lightweight category in Glasgow – till date, was ignored during the selection of the contingent for the prestigious games.
The 28-year-old’s axing from the Indian contingent for the Games came despite the athlete meeting the eligibility criteria as marked by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).
Sakina had written to the PM regarding the issue and had said,
“I am still waiting for my name to feature in the list. I will fight till the last and if then also my name is not included, then I will move to court because they have spoiled my life. I will not leave it, even If I have to commit suicide in front of IOA.”
Reflecting on the same, Suvarna, who visibly looked quite upset with the para powerlifter’s snub, asked that for how long the deserving sportspersons would be denied playing opportunities due to politics in sports bodies.
“I think what she had said is true. In India, the athletes have to either quit the sports or commit suicide. Recently, an archer of international level committed suicide. For how long will this continue? We can’t ignore such an important issue,” Suvarna said.
Describing Sakina’s exclusion as “shameful”, Suvarna, who was afflicted with polio at the age of two, noted that the corruption has spoiled the spirit of sports.
“It always happens with us, whether it is Sakina, the archer or any other athlete. Despite meeting the standards, the corruption forces us (para-athletes) to worry about our selections. Our morale goes down because of that. In Sakina’s case, she has already come to know that her name is not there in the list. This is very shameful. Whether it is PCI or IOA, they could not have afforded to miss her name,” she said.
Suvarna, who won two medals in Thailand Para Table Tennis Open 2013 and participated in the Asian Para Games 2014 in Korea, had, in January, decided to quit the game after she claimed to have denied playing opportunities because of corruption in sports bodies.
Earlier in the day, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had written a letter to Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) asking for Sakina’s inclusion for the CWG, which is slated to be held from April 4 and will run till April 15.