No hurdles for Sahana Kumari, confirms AFI
With barely two days left for the 2012 Olympics to kick off, the NGO that helped high jumper Sahana Kumari by accumulating funds for her coach (Russian Evgeny Nikitin) to travel with her, is not certain whether she will board the flight to London
The reason: The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) accreditation, treated as the visa for any participating athlete, has yet to reach her.
In full flight: India high jumper Sahana Kumari during the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. PIC/AFP
“We have been waiting for the accreditation, which is with the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), without which she won’t be able to go. They
verbally informed Sahana that the accreditation is with them, but nothing has been communicated officially,” said Jaymin Panchal, founder of NGO Ek Aur Prayas, who helped Sahana accumulate funds to take her coach to London. The Karnataka state government also provided the athlete with assistance of R5 lakh.
However, AFI president Adille Sumariwalla trashed all allegations directed at the athletics body and confirmed that the accreditation is with IOA.
“It has become a fashion to blame the association for anything and everything. Since she qualified late, her photograph was sent late, hence the delay.
“I confirm that her LOCOG accreditation is with us. She needs to collect her passport from the British High Commission (which was submitted when she was asked to apply for the visa on her own as it was too late) and report to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) office in the Capital by July 26 so that she can take a flight to London on July 28,” Sumariwalla told MiD DAY yesterday.
Sumariwalla’s response could blow away all of Sahana’s fears, but Panchal continued to blame the sporting body: “Where is the professionalism in asking an athlete to pick up her passport herself? AFI or IOA could have just communicated to the British High Commission and requested them to send the passport to either the athlete or the IOA. Her husband would not have to rush to Chennai now to collect the passport.”
Bangalore-based Sahana qualified for the Olympics through her career-best jump of 1.92m at the National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships in Hyderabad on June 23.
She will be the first Indian high jumper to take part in the Olympic Games after Bobby Aloysius.
Sumariwalla was livid: “It’s ridiculous. By the time Sahana qualified, the LOCOG had stopped issuing accreditations, but it was IOA, who convinced them. We couldn’t have done anything better,” he added.