Getting the Union sports ministry to resume grants for preparatory camps and banks to activate accounts frozen since October were Deepa Malik’s priorities as president of the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
The national lockdown to combat Covid-19 has stalled both. It meant PCI barely managed to pay Rs 1.08 lakh to World Para Athletics last month as affiliation fee.
“Immediately (after the lockdown ends on May 3), we will speak to the legal cell of the bank as the court has allowed us to run PCI,’’ said Malik, a shotput silver medallist in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. “We will also request the sports ministry to review the situation and grant funds for the camps.”
Malik, awarded the Khel Ratna last year, took charge on February 1 after an interim order on January 27 from the Delhi High Court which had earlier stayed last October’s PCI elections. But since the paperwork could not be completed before the lockdown, PCI’s status did not change. The Union sports ministry had derecognised PCI after elections in Bengaluru were challenged in court.
That meant national camps for the Tokyo Olympics could not be conducted even after India won nine medals, including two gold, and 13 Olympics quota places in the Dubai World Para Athletics Championships in November.
In the 2016 Paralympics, India got four medals including two gold. Devendra Jhajharia (javelin throw) and Mariyappan Thangavelu (high jump) bagged gold and Varun Bhatti won bronze (high jump). It was India’s best performance in the history of the Games. Across five disciplines, 19 athletes had qualified.
Malik said she is confident that more athletes would win quota places this time around. The postponement of the Olympics could help PCI sort out internal issues and get support of the government.
“The world body has approved our elections and things have started moving. We are conducting online seminar for athletes and coaches,’’ said Malik.