London: Less than a month after India's best show at the Olympics, shame for the country at the London Paralympics. CNN-IBN has exclusively learnt that India's specially-abled athletes are struggling at the Games Village. While Indian officials are staying at the Village, coaches and escorts have been asked to stay outside on their own expense.
"I do not have an escort here and even my coach was not allowed to stay with me. I have been in London since August 11 and our federation's representatives promised that all arrangements will be made but nothing has been taken care of. I was confident of a medal but now all my training has gone in vain," Indian weightlifter Farman Basha told CNN-IBN.
The differently-abled athletes have been training very hard over the last few years and had high hopes of winning medals but without an escort available even to help them reach the dining area they are finding it an uphill task to compete on this elite stage.
"My escort was supposed to take me to the dining area which is half a kilometre from here but he was not available. Only one escort is here for all of us. No individual escort has been sanctioned. It is very difficult for us to move around in wheelchairs," Basha added.
The Sports Ministry sources say that the responsibilty of allocation of rooms lies with the Paralympics Committee of India and also added that the Indian Olympics Association has no hand in the matter as the PCI is not a part of it. Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken has sought details in the issue. "Just got in touch with the Indian High Commission officials and DG Sports Authority of India. Asked them to get in touch with concerned people immediately," Maken tweeted.
While atheletes from other countries have each been assigned an escort as well as a personal coach, the entire Indian contingent has to manage with just two escorts and a handful of coaches. As India's Paralympic dreams lie in the balance, the PCI officials are yet to react.