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Govt fixes felicitation date, medallist readies for Italy

Patna, Aug. 19: A volley of excuses later, the government today decided to honour Shreyasi Singh, but picked a date when the Commonwealth Games silver medallist is due to be in Italy preparing to bring the country more laurels.

The art, culture and youth affairs department announced it would honour 22-year-old Shreyasi in an official ceremony at Patna’s SK Memorial Hall on August 29.

If the department had thought of contacting the athlete before fixing the date, they would have known she would be abroad training for the upcoming World Shooting Championship in Spain. But they didn’t and Shreyasi categorically told The Telegraph today that it is unlikely she would be able to make it to the ceremony.

Shreyasi, who won silver in the women’s double trap shooting at the Glasgow games on July 27, said she is scheduled to be thousands of miles away in Italy on that day.

Speaking from New Delhi, Shreyasi told The Telegraph: “I was in Patna on Sunday and Monday, but now I have reached Delhi. Till now, nobody from the Bihar government has contacted me or my family about the felicitation ceremony. If the government is thinking about it, it’s most unlikely I’ll be present. I will leave for Italy latest by Wednesday night for the training session for the upcoming World Shooting Championship. The event starts next month in Spain. I cannot say when I will leave for Spain from Italy but this much is certain that it will be impossible for me to attend the ceremony in Patna on August 29.”

Shreyasi said she was supposed to leave for the training session on Monday but has been held back because of visa formalities. The World Shooting Championship in Granada, Spain, starts on September 6. So, she will directly proceed there from Italy. The tournament will end on September 20. The double trap women’s event is slated for September 14.

On Monday, art, culture and youth affairs minister Vinay Bihari had blamed the rains and waterlogging for his failure to participate in a meeting to discuss the felicitation of Shreyasi with chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on August 14. The day before, Bihari had said he was too busy campaigning for the upcoming Assembly by-elections. The minister also claimed he did not have the medallist’s contact number. Bihari could not be contacted for comment today.

Arvind Thakur, the director (student, youth and welfare), told The Telegraph on Tuesday: “Each year, the government organises the Bihar Sports Awards ceremony on August 29. Here, players who have won laurels for the state are honoured. It has been decided that Shreyasi will be honoured in this event. There will be a cash reward, the amount of which has not been decided yet. The chief minister will decide it in a day or two,”

Department officials were in the dark about Shreyasi’s schedule for the next few weeks. Deputy director (student, youth and welfare) K.N Jaiswal said: “If that is the case, the department can announce her name at the ceremony and the award can be handed over to her when she returns. We have no idea about her travel plans.”

The sports fraternity is enraged by the government’s apathy. “This issue has become nothing but a joke. The government had a good chance to honour a player of repute from the state. But lame excuses and delays spoiled it all. One can well imagine the plight of lesser-known athletes from Bihar,” Mritunjay Tiwari, president, Bihar Players’ Association, said.


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