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On a sad day for Indian sport, especially keeping in mind the spirit of the Special Olympics, two medals were stripped from Indian athletes under the Honest Effort ruling, which has lead to the disqualification of their scores from Thursday's competition.
Parth Malhotra and Pinky Sunil who won Gold and Bronze respectively in the Snowshoeing 50 meters dash in their respective gender categories were disqualified after their times improved by more than the permitted 15% from their preliminary divisioning time for that leg of the competition.
In the divisioning process, all the athletes for a particular sport compete against the clock to determin e their ability levels. Based on their timings they are classified into homogenous groups so that each participant competes with players of their own level.
During divisioning, the participants are expected to perform at their peak to ensure that they are not deliberately misclassified giving them the opportunity of winning in a lower level category.
Parth Malhotra was placed in the last of the Men's divisions with a time of 17.92 in the divisioning round, however a performance of 13.59 in the finals was not just good enough for Gold in his division, it would have given him Gold one division above too!
It is as yet unclear whether the Indian authorities at the games, led by Air Marshall Malik have decided to appeal this automatic disqualification, however given the extent of the improvement, it seems unlikely that the Jury would decide in the athlete's favour.
An obviously disappointed Parth taking part in the 25 meters event today was the only athlete to not improve on his qualifying time and came in dead last in his group.
Pinky Sunil meanwhile was disqualified on the same grounds as Parth, however would be more likely to win an appeal if filed, as her improvement was barely over 15%, and she was competing in the lowest rung of the female event. Hence, by underperforming in her category, Pinky could have gained no advantage whatsoever; as any improvement in her qualifying time would have still placed her in the same group.
We are however yet to hear from the games officials of any appeal having been filed.
As if to answer her critics, Pinky Sunil stormed back to win India's sole Gold medal of the day with a in the Snowshoeing 25 meter race. Though she too did worse than her qualifying time of 6.46 seconds (best in the women's prelims, placing her in division 1), her time today of 6.65 was one second better than Ksenia Karpycheva of Russia.
Marina Sofokleous from Cyprus won the Bronze in a time of 6.8 seconds.
Also racking up the medals for India today were Ruchika Shah and Rijwan. Ruchika came in second in the Women's division 6 event, behind Jodie Blaney from the Isle of Man, in a time of 7.44 seconds. Jodie completed the course in 7.27 seconds. Madalina Stan of Romania came third.
Rijwan also won a Silver for India, coming in just 6 seconds behind Timotheos Vassiliou of Cyprus, in a time of 6.63 seconds. Juan Quilez of Argentina came in third.
Photograph & Video Copyright: Special OlympicsÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â
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