Gold Coast, April 3
Saina Nehwal was hopping mad on Monday night. She had discovered that her father, Harvir Singh, who had been named as a badminton squad official in India’s contingent, was scratched from the “team official” category. Only official members of a contingent can use the accommodation at the Games Village — thus Harvir Singh was ineligible to stay there with Saina.Saina shot off an angry mail to a senior Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official with a very serious threat — that she would not play if her father’s name was not restored in the list.Suitably alarmed, IOA went into overdrive. “The whole day we tried to make sure that her father could stay in the Commonwealth Games Village,” says Vikram Singh Sisodia, the Chef-de-Mission of the Indian contingent.The tireless efforts bore fruit. IOA was able to designate Harvir Singh as an official of the Indian contingent, which meant that he could stay in the Games Village.Interestingly, Vijaya Pusarla, the mother of the other Indian badminton superstar, PV Sindhu, had been designated as an official of the badminton squad. This meant she could stay with Sindhu. It’s possible that Saina had been angered by this disparity — that despite travelling at no cost to the government, her father’s name had been scratched off the list. So, Saina was able to “persuade” IOA to designate her father as an official. But there are other, lesser sportspersons who have been practically begging IOA to provide them with support staff. Take Sathish Sivalingam and mates in the weightlifting squad. Sivalingam won a gold at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Right from that time, he’d been urging that the weightlifting team needs a physiotherapist/doctor. “Yes, we still don’t have a doctor or physiotherapist, or even a masseur,” confirmed Sivalingam. “We’ve been facing difficulties… But unfortunately, this time too, I think our requests are going to be denied. Not even a masseur.”Even the wrestling squad lacks a masseur — but the much less muscle-intensive sport of table tennis has two!When the weightlifting team was training in Melbourne until a few days ago, it did have a physio — Aakrant Saxena. The weightlifters were keen to have him stay at the Village. But weightlifting isn’t badminton, and Sivalingam is no Saina. IOA knows this — it made strenuous efforts for Saina today, but has made none for Sivalingam. For years.