Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The Madhya Pradesh State Water Sports Academy elbowed out a 29-year-old canoeist in December last year, for she was not “performing” well. On the contrary, a few months before her performance came under question, she won a bronze medal in an international competition and five medals in national competitions. Canoeist Namita Chandel has cut a wide swath for herself in water sports.
Chandel joined the MP Academy in 2010 .She also became the first female from the academy to get World Rank 18 in C-1 (Canoeing Individual).
"I was told to stop training at the academy in Bhopal as my coach had written an application to the sports department saying I was not performing well. It was shocking because I had won various medals in 2022. Soon I realised that it was less about my performance and a lot more about the internal politics." Chandel told the Free Press in an exclusive interaction.
When I tried to talk to the officials at the Tatya Tope stadium, they asked my age. When I told him that I am 29, he said, Oh, you’re already overage; we need new athletes here."
Chandel learned everything at the State Academy, from knowing what the sport was to living in a hostel. It was the first time she had ever stepped out of her small hamlet in Seoni. When she started playing well, she even rejected many big jobs because she always wanted to represent her state.
Chandel said, "I gave this academy 13 years; I won more than 50 medals for the state; but in return, all I got was depression and disrespect. When I got the weed out, no one asked me how I was doing. I was suicidal for a few months. It cost me my National Games and Asian Games trails. There’s nothing more important for an athlete than time. The academy wasted my time and ruined my confidence.
Meanwhile, Namita's former coach said, "The higher authorities asked me about her performance." She couldn't qualify for the National Games 2022, and a subjunior girl performed better than her, said the coach. “I just wrote what I observed about her performance. I didn't say that we should weed her out of the academy or anything,” he claimed.
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