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No mental health seminars conducted for Indian Paralympians from 2016 to 2021

The SAI, in an RTI reply, to The Bridge revealed that no mental health seminars were conducted for Indian Paralympians in the Olympic cycle from 2016 to 2021.

2020 Tokyo Paralympics Gold Medallists Avani Lekhara Pramod Bhagat

India's 2020 Tokyo Paralympics gold medallists Avani Lekhara and Pramod Bhagat


Abhijit Nair

Published: 23 Nov 2021 2:44 AM GMT

At a time when the talks about the mental well-being of athletes have been on an all-time high, the Sports Authority of India (SAI), in a Right to Information (RTI) reply to The Bridge, revealed that it has not conducted even a single mental health seminar for the country's Paralympians in the Olympic cycle from 2016 to 2021.

While the SAI maintained that it has conducted various performance-centric mental health seminars for the country's Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), no generic mental health seminars were held for them either.

With a total of eight psychologists employed with the SAI, the sessions conducted for the Olympians is said to have been a mix of online and offline and both individual and group-wise.

Though the SAI did not reveal the frequency with which mental health seminars were held for the Olympians, it asserted that the able-bodied athletes were assisted with necessary help on the mental health front continuously from time to time.

The para-athletes, on the other hand, are understood to have been left in the dark on this front, with the RTI reply on mental health seminars conducted for Paralympians from 2016 to 2021 reading, 'NIL'.

The mental health of athletes was one of the major talking points of the recently concluded Olympics in Tokyo, with the American gymnast Simone Biles pulling out of multiple finals citing mental health issues.

Even the star Indian wrestler, Vinesh Phogat, had opened up about the sorry state of affairs regarding the mental health of athletes who fail to perform well just days after her unfortunate exit from the Tokyo Games.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was the most successful campaign for India in their long history at the quadrennial events. While the able-bodied athletes returned with a total of seven medals including a historic gold from Neeraj Chopra, the country's para-athletes bagged a total of 19 podium finishes including five gold medals.

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