High jumper Tejaswin Shankar added to CWG squad by AFI after court battle-Sports News , Firstpost

Tejaswin Shankar’s participation in the CWG is still subject to Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF, CWG organising body) clearance as the last date of sending entries for the CWG was set at June 29.

File image of Tejaswin Shankar. AFP

Following a court battle over a fortnight, high jumper Tejaswin Shankar was added to the track and field squad for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, said Athletics Federation of India in Delhi Hight Court on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old national record holder was added to the 37-member squad in place of 400m runner Rajiv Arokia, who was included in the relay team provisionally as a backup for uncertain Amoj Jacob but was eventually excluded from the team after unsatisfactory timings during the trials in Patiala on 4 July.

Tejaswin’s participation in the CWG is still subject to Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF, CWG organising body) clearance as the last date of sending entries for the CWG was set for 29 June. The court, benched by justice Yashwant Varma, has directed AFI to inform the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) of the squad change and has also asked IOA to reach out to CGF with the same at the earliest, Tejaswin’s legal representative Malak Bhatt told Firstpost.

“AFI made a statement that Arokia Rajiv (4 x 400 m men relay) has been disqualified and Tejaswin Shankar has been included in the 36 team contingent. Court has directed AFI to send the same forthwith to IOA and IOA has been directed to immediately reach out to CWG authority and intimate about Tejaswin’s inclusion,” said Bhatt after the court proceedings on Wednesday.

The court also came down heavily on AFI regarding their selection policy during an earlier hearing on Tuesday, which stretched close to one and a half hours. It called for the next hearing on 25 August to review the federation’s selection procedure in order to ensure there is no ‘national embarrasment’ in the future again.

“Court has now kept the matter for 25 Aug for considering the issues which were raised by us regarding the discrepancies in AFI’s selection process. Court said these issues will need to be sorted once and for all so that there is no ‘national embarrassment’ in future,” added Bhatt.

Following the hearing, Tejaswin took to Twitter to express his happiness about a favourable result from the court.

“Big Thanks to the twitter fam! ???????? Last 3 weeks have been a sleepless roller coaster & to finally get an opportunity to rep India at #CWG2022 is nothing short of a blessing. I have received lots of love but my heart goes out to mates who were equally deserving & missed,” wrote Tejaswin.

He further hoped that selection process will be revisited and be made more transparent for future.

“Hope selection criteria and policy is revisited and clear cut guidelines are established for everyone irrespective of anything. Opportunity to rep the country comes and goes very quickly for most and least athletes expect is a valid justification,” wrote Tejaswin.

The court was also critical of the IOA’s role in the selection as the Olympic body maintained its role is just to send the list of athletes, handed to them by the federations, to the event organisers. This prompted the court to question if IOA’s role is of a mere postmaster.

Earlier last month, Tejaswin took the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to Delhi High Court after the nation’s apex track and field body left him out of its squad for the 2022 CWG despite breaching the cut-off mark set by the body.

The court then observed that the matter is of national interest and urged AFI to add Tejaswin to the squad. AFI then came back at the next hearing saying they want to add further four athletes, who also cleared their selection procedure, to the squad but have been allotted a quota of 36 athletes by the IOA in accordance with CGF.

Delhi HC then summoned IOA for the next hearing while being hopeful that IOA will add Tejaswin and four other athletes — Swapna Barman (heptathlon), Srinu Bugatha and Anish Thapa (maranthon runners), and Jilna MV —.

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