Indians missed chance to win Paralympic quotas due to Covid: Coach


Wheelchair-bound discus thrower Sakshi Kasana was among several Indian para athletes who couldn’t compete in the just-concluded European Grand Prix circuit — and possibly earn Paralympic quota places — due to the Covid pandemic, said national para athletics coach Satyapal Singh on Monday.

“The May 5-7 Paris Grand Prix was cancelled due to the pandemic. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) didn’t approve of the entries of the Indian athletes for the Switzerland Grand Prix (May 14-16 in Nottwil). Both events could have been good platforms for Indian para athletes to earn quota places for the Tokyo Paralympic,” rued the Delhi-based Singh.

The coach said that Sakshi, 22, had won silver with a throw of 19.34 metres in F-55 category on her debut at the National Para Athletics Championships held in Bengaluru in March. “She has potential to do better. A performance of 20m and above could have enabled her to stay in the race for quota place,” the Dronacharya award winner told IANS.

Singh said that some of the para athletes who have already achieved minimum qualifying score (MQS) in previous competitions are eligible to compete in next month’s national selection trials for the Tokyo Paralympics.

“But those para athletes like Sakshi who haven’t achieved MOS in their respective events can’t compete in the national trials.” he explained.

The Sports Authority of India recently closed the national camps in New Delhi due to lockdown, said the coach. “Several para athletes have gone back home and some don’t have proper facilities to train. It is a challenging time for all,” he added.