After being snubbed from the Indian squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham despite securing the qualification standard set by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), high jumper Tejaswin Shankar has turned to the Delhi High Court filing a writ petition.
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National record holder Shankar wasn’t selected as he achieved the qualification mark at the NCAA Championship while representing Kansas State University in USA earlier this month.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Malak Bhatt, Shankar’s lawyer, has claimed that the decision is arbitrary, illegal and “against national interest.”
“A potential medal contender for the CWG Games has been arbitrarily excluded, despite meeting the eligibility mark set by the AFI,” Bhatt was quoted as saying by the website. “The decision is further illegal as Tejaswin ought to have been granted the exemption he sought as an elite athlete — in parity with the 3 others (Seema Punia, Neeraj Chopra, Avinash Sable) athletes who were given exemption from the inter-state competition on similar grounds. The current national record holder is being arbitrarily excluded at the whims of AFI and this action is absolutely against national interest.”
AFI had said they are not selecting Shankar since he didn’t take part in the Inter-State competition and didn’t seek exemption either.
“Mr Shankar did not want to be selected. Mr Shankar did not ask to be exempted from the Inter State Championships. He did not take permission from us before he competed in the USA,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla had said during a press conference.
In the petition, Shankar has claimed he did approach the chief national coach Radhakrishnan Nair in February seeking exemption since the Interstate meet was being held at the same time as the NCAA championships in the US.
“Mr Radhakrishnan had on 11.06.2022 intimated the Petitioner via WhatsApp that he would be considered by the Selection Committee based on his 2.27m jump at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championship 2022, and repeatedly inquired about the status of the Petitioner’s visa for the CWG 2022,” the petition read.
In an interview with Sporstar, Shankar had said he’s not worried since only achieving the qualification mark in his hands and not selection.
“It isn’t that the CWG wasn’t in the back of my head. It was in the front of my head. Last time (in 2018) I came sixth. This time I wanted to do better. When I saw that the (qualification) standard was set at 2.27m, my only real goal was to match it. And once that happened I was satisfied because I’d done what I could. The rest is not in my hands so why should I worry,” he said.
The writ petition will be heard on Wednesday.