While the country is rejoicing that the women’s hockey team scripted history by being part of the top four women’s teams at the Tokyo Olympics, there are those women athletes who are still being left behind on the basis of their sex. According to reports, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has dropped disabled athlete, Sameeha Barwin, from the list of participants for a world championship in Poland, citing her gender and the lack of an escort.
Salamath Barwin’s, the 18-year-old athlete’s mother, in a statement to The News Minute, said, “I was told that they cannot send my daughter alone as she is only a female athlete and also arrangements cannot be made for an escort due to shortage of funds. My daughter is an excellent athlete. And the federation has wronged Sameeha by dropping her for such silly reasons.”
Barwin, who hails from Tamil Nadu and lives with a 90 per cent hearing impairment, is a world record-holder in the 100-meter track after breaking a 1986-record, and is a three-time national gold medallist in deaf athletic championships.
Reports claim that Barwin has cleared the qualifying rounds and is eligible to participate in the 4th World Deaf Athletics Championship to be held later this month. However, reports suggest that what’s stopping her from going to Poland is her gender.
The SAI, however, has rubbished these accusations stating that her performance “wasn’t up to the mark”, directly contradicting her qualification for the event.
V Vijaykumar, an MP from Kanyakumari allegedly took up the issue of her exclusion from the roster of participants with the Union Sports Ministry, and was told it’s too late to do anything now. However, the contingent doesn’t leave for Poland till August 14.
Speaking up in defense of Barwin, Padmini Chennapragada, a disability sports researcher, told Sportstar, “What we want is transparency and justice for the athlete and her mother. And we want the National Federation and Union Sports Ministry to give us a reply in writing.”