Even as the entire country is proud of what its women athletes have done at Tokyo 2020, a female athlete with a hearing impairment from Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu has been dropped from participating at the 4th World Deaf Athletics Championships to be held from August 23-28 in Poland. Sameeha Barwin, who was the only female athlete among the Indians to be selected during the national trials, did not travel to Poland as the Sports Authority of India was allegedly unwilling to send a female athlete alone with five male athletes.
The 18-year-old is a long jump and 100-metre track athlete who has been competing for the last six-seven years. She has three gold medals at three national athletic championships for deaf athletes to her credit- one each in Jharkhand 2017, Chennai in 2018, and Calicut in 2019.
"My daughter is an excellent athlete. And the federation has wronged Sameeha by dropping her for such silly reasons. More than anything, I am now fighting for her dignity,” Sameeha's mother Salamath was quoted by The News Minute.
Arrangements cannot be made for an escort due to shortage of funds: SAI to Sameeha's mother
"I was told that they cannot send my daughter alone as she is only female athlete and also arrangements cannot be made for an escort due to shortage of funds," she added.
Although the family did make efforts to get Sameeha’s name back on the list, it did not yield any result. Meanwhile, Member Parliament of the Kanyakumari constituency, V Vijayakumar, even wrote a letter to the newly sworn Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on July 26 requesting him to make sure Sameeha travels to Poland. However, no action has yet been taken even as Vijayakumar mentioned that funds to sponsor the athlete’s trip can be arranged. Till now, there has been no response on this matter.
It is also being learned that Sameeha's family runs a small coffee shop at Kadaiyaalumoodu in Kanyakumari and is facing a financial crunch.
"It requires a huge deal of money to come to Chennai to meet federation officials or ministers. With the help of people we are able to make a few trips to Chennai so that I can get justice for my daughter," Salamath said.