Dhanalakshmi Sekar, the only Indian sprinter who qualified for the World Athletics Championships 2022, will not be able to compete at the event after she failed to complete her visa formalities in time to travel to Oregon, the USA for the meet.
Several athletes from all around the world were forced to miss Oregon 2022, being held in Eugene from July 15 to 24, after being refused visas to the U.S. or due to late issuance. However, Dhanalakshmi’s case is slightly different.
When the U.S. Embassy opened a special window for the world championships-bound Indian athletes in late June, Dhanalakshmi missed the appointment since she was competing at the Qosanov Memorial meet in Kazakhstan at that time.
The Tamil Nadu runner recorded a personal best time of 22.89 seconds to win gold at the Kazakhstan meet. However, since Dhanalakshmi missed the U.S. visa appointment, it complicated things as she also had to apply for her visa to the U.K. for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, beginning on July 28 in Birmingham, an olympics.com report said.
“Since I had gone to Kazakhstan, my U.S. visa appointment got cancelled. And for the Commonwealth Games, they had put my U.K. visa appointment for July 1. I had to attend that, and my passport got held up there,” Dhanalakshmi told The Hindu.
The 24-year-old couldn’t meet the qualifying standards for Oregon 2022 but made the cut for the women’s 200m race based on her world rankings. India’s other top sprinters like Dutee Chand and Hima Das had failed to qualify.
Though disappointed after missing out on a world championship debut, the sprinter has decided to shift her focus towards the upcoming Commonwealth Games, where she will compete in the 100m sprint and 4x100m relay.
“I’m disappointed but I thought I’d focus on the Commonwealth and do well there. In the Commonwealth Games probably if we try hard, we could win a relay medal. So, I thought I’d stay back and train (in India). Anyway, we have the world championships next year too,” she said.
A 23-member Indian contingent was set to compete at the World Athletics Championships 2022 but with Dhanalakshmi missing the flight to Oregon and Tajinderpal Singh Toor withdrawing after sustaining an injury during training, the number has come down to 21.