Representative pic
Representative pic

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh has seen many shiny days in water sports in recent years. Nevertheless, the clouds of pandemic seemed to have darkened swimming, the mother of all water sports. As the nation began the unlock procedures, many a sports resumed, but not swimming. Players went back to their grounds to get into the game but swimmers in the state have nothing to do as the swimming activities have not yet resumed in the state. The swimming academy in Hoshangabad has been shut since last March. The swimmers have nowhere to go to practice.

The state has no plans of reopening it anytime soon, leaving over 25 swimmers who train there clueless about their fate.

International Paralympics swimmer Satyendra Singh Lohiya, who became the first Asian to cross English Channel in less than 12 hours, says the government overlooked the swimmers in the state as every sector was thriving to stand tall after the fall.

Severe diarrhoea that engulfed him within two weeks of his birth slipped him a 60% permanent disability in both his legs. He says his father sold his land to send him to Gwalior so that he could fulfil his dream of becoming a top-notch swimmer. He wanted him to prove everyone who discouraged him wrong, he says.

The 33-year-old swimmer was setting records with every passing day until the pandemic began. He says a sportsperson becomes a consistent performer only by practice. A week out of practice takes a month’s time to come back on track, he says.

It has been over a year and the government has done nothing to support the swimmers, adds Lohiya.All the sporting activities have resumed, he says, adding that players are bringing home medals.But the swimmers are left to rot their talent and their game, says Lohiya.

The central government recently spent lakhs of rupees to send three and only three swimmers to a foreign camp, he says. Instead, they could have invested in the country, aiding thousands of swimmers, he adds.

Mohammad Shams Alam Sheikh, a para swimmer with spinal cord injury who won 4 Gold medals at Indian Open Para Swimming Championship at one go, says, the government could have put a stop on recreational swimming, but they did not.

Instead, they abandoned the swimmers who have brought name and glory to the state, he says.

Sheikh says when after months of lockdown he got an opportunity to swim in Gurgaon, he felt he was crawling. Let alone matching his average timing, he says.

There were a series of national and international tournaments scheduled in 2020 and 2021. A few were held as well. But the out-of-practice swimmers of Madhya Pradesh could not attend even one.

A national swimming tournament just concluded in Bengaluru on Monday. The Madhya Pradesh swimmers, however, could not swim their way to the medals.

Fast Forward-

Like a fish out of water: All the sporting activities have resumed and players are bringing home medals, however, the swimmers are left to rot their talent and their game. There were a series of national and international tournaments scheduled in 2020 and 2021. A few were held as well, but the out-of-practice swimmers of Madhya Pradesh could not attend even one.

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