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Removed from WA group, unanswered emails: How Katya Coelho's Asian Games dream ended

Windsurfer Katya Coelho got to know she had been removed from the Asian Games contingent on August 25. Goan politicians have taken up her cause, but her federation points to her performances at the 2023 Sailing World Championships.

Removed from WA group, unanswered emails: How Katya Coelhos Asian Games dream ended

Katya Coelho 


Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 9 Sep 2023 12:31 PM GMT

India's 16-member sailing contingent landed in China earlier this week as Sailing is one of the sports which shall begin at the 19th Asian Games before the opening ceremony on September 23. However, one sailor who was part of the original 17-member squad announced for the Games - Katya Coelho - is fighting a lost battle back in Goa.

As there are around ten days left before her event in Hangzhou, Katya is not harbouring any hopes of a last-minute redemption. Instead, she was the centre of attention at Friday's torch launch event in Panjim for the National Games.

"I don't have much faith, but I still am waiting for some sort of an update from the Goa government. I'm trying my best to fight back with their help, I'm trying to train every day, but I feel helpless. How can I fight against such forces?" Katya, whose father owns a hotel on the Anjuna beach, told The Bridge.

Katya had cleared all six trials that were mandated by her federation, the Yachting Association of India (YAI), to be selected for the upcoming Asian Games, and she was set to represent India in a new windsurfing sailing class which will makes its Olympic debut next year - IQFoil.

One of the most exciting prospects in the Indian contingent in Hangzhou, Katya had her 'India' kit prepared, her flight tickets booked. Everything was in order, till a few WhatsApp exchanges in the last week of August changed everything.

"When I was competing in the Sailing World Championships in The Netherlands in August, I got a message that told me I would not be able to take my coach to the Asian Games. All of the Indian sailors would have to do with only one coach. This was problematic for me as my sport is such that I am all alone in the middle of the sea," Katya said.

When she protested against the coach diktat, she found that she had been ejected from the WhatsApp group which had all the Indian sailors. But this was just the tip of the iceberg on which Katya's dreams would soon crash.

"On the night of August 25, I saw that my name had been removed from the final list of athletes being sent to the Asian Games. I endured one disturbing night and then confronted the YAI, thinking it was a mistake. What was sad was that while my emails went unanswered, the federation officials spoke about me in press notes," Katya said, expressing disappointment at the lack of communication.

Goan politicians have thrown their weight behind Katya, but there has not been any headway yet. With Katya's ejection, badminton player Tanisha Crasto is the only one from the state who will be part of India's 634-member contingent in Hangzhou.

According to the YAI, Katya's name has been removed from the final list, like around 200 more athletes spread across various sports, because of the Union government's criteria for sending representatives only if they have a good Asian ranking.

Katya finished 88th out of 90 women in IQFoil at the World Sailing C'ships in August, having got a berth on the basis of emerging nations quota. It is hard to judge Katya's Asian ranking because hers is a new event, but she did win a silver medal at the Asian Championships in Thailand last year, in a field that did not have China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore for Covid-related reasons.

"2018 Asian Games silver medallist Varsha Gautham had gone to the Games after having won a court case to get selected. I didn't go to court because it would be an expensive affair and I had too little time. For now, I am focussing on winning medals for Goa at the National Games," she said.

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