Lawn bowls CWG medallists still struggle for recognition, funds
The women's lawn bowls team won the historic gold at the picturesque greens of Victoria Park at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games

New Delhi: Toast of the nation three months ago, India’s first-ever lawn bowls medallists at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games are fast fading into oblivion, searching for sponsors for their next assignment.

The women’s team comprising a school teacher from Delhi and police constables had won the historic gold at the picturesque greens of Victoria Park near Birmingham.

The men’s team consisting of an aspiring pilot and a couple of Jharkhand police officials followed up with an unprecedented silver to cap off a dream run at the Games.

It was the first time that India managed to win a medal since the sport’s inception way back in 1930.

Navneet Singh, the youngest member of the men’s fours team, had hoped his life would change while standing at the podium on a glorious August 6 afternoon. But much to his disappointment, “all of them” are back to where they were three months ago.

The Bowling Federation of India was supposed to send a two-member team to New Zealand later this month for Champions of Champions tournament but backed due to financial constraints.

“The cost was coming down to Rs 7 lakh person and athletes generally arrange the money on their own. We are hoping that we will get the central government recognition soon so that we don’t have to worry about funds for training and competition,” Bowling Federation of India treasurer Krishan Bir Singh Rathi told PTI.

The 27-year-old Navneet, who picked up the sport during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi 12 years ago, also expressed his disappointment.

“We thought things would change but they have not yet. We are hoping the government recognition comes through soon so that we are able to plan our competition calendar much in advance,” said the Delhi based athlete, who had missed his flying exam to represent India at the CWG.

His other team members included 37-year-old sports teach Chandan Kumar Singh, Jharkhand police officials Sunil Bahadur and Dinesh Kumar. The gold-winning women’s team comprised Pinki, Lovely Choubey, Rupa Rani Tirkey, and Nayanmoni Saikia.

The funding for CWG was not an issue as all participating athletes were funded by the government but for the stand-alone events the athletes have to make their own arrangements.

“Had applied for government recognition last year”

Narrating a sorry state of affairs, Rathi informed that the federation has not been able to pay for the catering and accommodation used during the training camp ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The four-month camp was held in Delhi before the team flew to London for a 10-day camp right before the Games in Birmingham. The total dues are Rs 1.32 crore.

“We have requested the government to clear that also, we have been waiting. We applied for the recognition last year and the file is still with the sports ministry. Our sport will get a much-needed boost with government recognition,” said Rathi.

With government recognition, the federation will be able to request for funds under the Annual Training and Competition Calendar (ACTC).

The athletes have already missed one important in New Zealand but they are hopeful of getting funding for the Asian Championship in February.

Delhi-based athletes Navneet and Pinki are also waiting for their cash reward from the Delhi government. All members of the CWG have got their cash rewards from the central government as per policy.

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