Saturday, Sep 20, 2003
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By Abhijit Sen Gupta
Hyderabad Sept. 19. The long-awaited disbursement of prize money to sportspersons who had represented AP and won medals for the State in the 32nd National Games may take place some time before the Afro-Asian Games. According to L.V. Subrahmanyam, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) a countdown calendar is being prepared in connection with the buildup for the Afro-Asian Games and there is a plan to allot one day on the countdown calendar to conduct the prize distribution.
"We are making arrangements to disburse the prize money to medal winners for AP. The total amount for the prize money expenses may come to about 5.3 crores ," said Mr. Subrahmanyam while speaking to The Hindu here today. " We will try to set the date of disbursement some time after the athletes return from the Asian athletic meet in Manila ," he clarified.
It may be recalled that a few weeks before the games began last year, the State Government had announced that all those sportspersons who could win medals for AP would be rewarded with handsome prize money . Clearly the objective was to spur the players to do their best and thereby put AP on the top of the medals table in the 32nd National Games. This move had also prompted many sportspersons from other States to don the colours of the host state as they hoped to profit by their talents.
Though the Government's move evoked criticism from some who felt that it was encouraging mercenary trends in sport, it did enable the State to achieve its immediate ambition - that of topping the medal tally at the end of the games. The sportspersons who had won all those medals for AP also had reason to be happy since they stood to gain huge sums of money -- the kind of princely sums which usually only cricketers are fortunate to be able to make from their sport.
Swimmer Richa Mishra of Delhi who represented AP and picked up a rich haul of medals in the pool, was in a position to gain a huge sum of Rs. 35 lakhs from prize money! There were many others who also would become richer by several lakhs going by the medals they had won in their events.
But the long delay by the State Government in fulfilling its promise had resulted in a sense of frustration and disappointment amongst the players.
An indication of the loss of faith amongst athletes was evident during the Federation Cup athletic championships held in June when many of the athletes from other States such as Vinitha Tripathi, Hridayanand Singh, Gulab Chand, and others who had represented AP in the National Games decided against representing AP again. Recently during the senior national aquatic championships in Kolkata , Richa Mishra had expressed disappointment at the AP Government's indifferent attitude and told the media that so far she had not got a a single paisa out of the Rs. 35 lakhs due to her.
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