Chennai: A national wheelchair fencing player from Chennai is raising funds to participate in an international fencing competition 2022 which will be held in Thailand on May 18.
Sheerathi Thomas (36), a resident of Thiruvanmiyur, is no stranger to the fencing world in Tamil Nadu and India. She has been fencing for 10 years and has won three gold, three silver and two bronze medals in national level championships. At the state level, she secured a gold and silver medal respectively.
“Even though I have participated and won medals in both national and state level, I got an opportunity to participate in international level twice. But financial constraints prevented me from participating in the event. But I haven’t let it stop me from pursuing my dream,” said Sheerathi.
After two years of COVID, she played in the national level fencing game in March 2022. “I was selected for Wheelchair Fencing World Championship 2022 in Thailand from May 18–22,” she added.
The pandemic has prevented players from getting sponsors and donations. With no help from any quarters, they approached a private organisation – Milaap.
“I’ve got a third opportunity to participate at the international level, but again money is an obstacle now. All these years, I used to borrow equipment for the games, but now I have to buy it myself. I’d need at least Rs 5 lakh – gaming equipment, wheelchair, and travel expenses,” she said.
Many are hesitating to donate due to the pandemic-induced monetary challenges. Also, time frame is too short for her request for help to gain public attention, which is why Sheerathi is also collecting money from her close circles.
When contacted a senior official at Wheelchair Fencing Federation of India, Chennai, he said that if a player participates in international championships, from the next game, the state government will provide fundng assistance.