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Sunday, 10 May 2015

LAME EXCUSE - Ahmedabad

An Arjuna Award winner who made India proud at the Para Asian Games in Incheon last year and netted third consecutive gold at para world badminton tourney in Germany the previous year has been told she would not get the prize announced by the state government because she belongs to "disabled" category. Parul Parmar (42), who was struck with polio at the age 3, is Gujarat's and the country's shining star at international badminton tournaments for the physically challenged. She has bagged several gold and silver medals at international and national tournaments, but after winning many a battle on the badminton court, currently she is made to fight a battle to claim cash award announced by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel for exemplary performance.

The chief minister had on August 10, 2014, announced that athletes will be given a prize of Rs 5 crore in cash for Olympic gold, Rs 3 crore for silver and Rs 2 crore for bronze. Similarly winners in Asian Games were promised Rs 2 crore, Rs 1 crore and Rs 50 lakh for gold, silver and bronze respectively. The announcement was made on Raksha Bandhan day when she tied rakhis to 300 physically challenged children.

Though the chief minister's announcement received wide media coverage considering the impressive amount of money pledged to talents in Gujarat, Sports Authority of Gujarat now says that the award is only for the "able" category and not meant for the "disabled" category. For Parul, the announcement had come as god send. The award, she thought, would help her procure better kits and prepare well for further tournaments.

That would have eased her life considerably. However, on Tuesday, when she inquired about the award, she was told that it was only meant for "able" sports persons and not for the "disabled". "I have been a consistent performer and have won 14 gold, five silver and four bronze medals at international events. I was not aware of any distinction between the abled and the disabled at sports events. We compete and play for the country and I represent my state very proudly," she told Mirror.

Officials concerned, however, are bogged down with the technicalities of the athletes' physical conditions. SAG Chief Coach Naeem Ansari pointed out that Parmar had sent her documents under the disabled category whereas the announcement was made only for the able category. "We have recently given her cash award of Rs 5 lakh under Kanya Kelavani Yojana," Ansari added. SAG Director General Sandeep Pradhan said, "As of now, we are giving awards only in the able category. But there have been several representations in the disabled category and the matter is under active consideration at the higher level. We will also have to check if Parul's application meets the necessary condition of participation of a minimum of eight countries at the event."

Sports Secretary Manish Bharadwaj too said that the government would have to check if the criteria fixed for the award were met in Parul's case. Parul was honoured with Arjuna Award by the then president Pratibha Patil in 2009 and was given a special award by her predecessor APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006. She has been the top ranked player in para-badminton and has also won the state's Eklavya Award. When she won the World Para Badminton Championship in 2013 in Germany, it was the third time she won it in a row.

Source: Ahmedabad Mirror , 8th May 2015 

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