Ankur Dhama, India’s first fully blind paralympic athlete registered a complaint with the Rio Paralympics authorities claiming that his guide was pushed during the 1500m heat.
Ankur, who is the first blind athlete to represent India at the Rio Paralympics, and is currently ranked at world number 7, participated in the 1500m heat at Rio. Unfortunately, he failed to qualify as his guide, Vipin, took a tumble, setting the team back by several seconds and injuring Ankur. However, Dhama, along with his coach, Satyapal Singh, have registered a complaint with the authorities at Rio on the grounds that a video grab shows Vipin being pushed by Deniz Simih of Turkey, who later went on to win the heat.
Though there is a 30-minute window after the race within which complaints must be registered, Vipin and Satyapal were not sure about the incident till footage was made available an hour later. Vipin had felt a nudge while they were choosing tracks, but could not ascertain if he was pushed or not by another athlete or guide. Once the video grab had confirmed their suspicions, inspite of having missed the 30-minute window, a complaint was registered, according to a statement issued by Satyapal Singh to Sportskeeda.
Ankur, who is a 22-year old MA student at Delhi University, is one of India’s best para-runners. He turned completely blind when he was six years old, after which he was sent to JPM Senior Secondary School in Delhi. The school’s emphasis on sports encouraged Ankur who began to compete and the national and international levels.
At the Dubai Asia-Oceania qualifier for the Paralympics, Ankur had secured a gold medal. His list of achievements is a long one. Ankur has also won a silver and two bronze medals at the Asian Para Games in 2014. A graduate from St. Stephen’s College, Ankur, like every visually challenged runner, runs with a guide- Vipin Kumar, a 20-year old Nagpur University student-who will be tied to him with a rope. Therefore, for the visually challenged, running is a team sport, requiring a great degree of co-ordination and mutual understanding. Further, the guide is required to be 10 seconds faster than the athlete and pushing and dragging is not allowed. Therefore, when Vipin fell, Ankur was thrown off guard and lost several seconds.
At the Olympics last month, an athlete was pushed during the race, after which he was given direct entry into the finals. According to Sportskeeda’s report, Satyapal is certain that if Ankur’s guide had not been pushed, he would have definitely qualfied and made it to the finals, with a good shot at getting atleast the bronze. The fall set Ankur back by 15 seconds as compared to his personal best. He had been hoping to improve his speed by 5 seconds at Rio.
The International Paralympic Committee is slated to take a decision on the matter on the 19th.
Image credits: www.sportskeeda.com