Discus thrower Vinod Kumar produced a best throw of 19.91m to finish third behind Piotr Kosewicz (20.02m) of Poland and Velimir Sandor (19.98m) of Croatia at the ongoing Paralympics.
However, soon after the event, the results were put under review and the victory ceremony, postponed. On Monday, the organisers announced the ‘amendment’ of the result.
“…the panel was unable to allocate the athlete Vinod Kumar from NPC India with a sport class and the athlete was designated as Classification not Completed (CNC),” the organisers said in a statement.
“The athlete is therefore ineligible for the Men’s F52 Discus medal event and his results in that competition are void,” the statement added.
Amidst the euphoric medal counts this morning, theres this bad news coming in as a blow. Vinod Kumar loses his bronze due to classification issues. #ParalympicsTokyo2020 #Paralympics pic.twitter.com/Oud37Mby9J
— Joydeep Karmakar OLY (@Joydeep709) August 30, 2021
Kumar had been evaluated on August 22 and was, at the time, cleared to compete in the F52 category.
Before they compete, the athletes undergo evaluation on-site by classifiers who are trained by every sport’s respective international federation and they decide on the classification status based on the sport and impairment type. The classification may not necessarily take place at every tournament.
According to the IPC, athletes who take part in the F52 category have ‘good shoulder muscles and mildly weak to full elbow and wrist muscles which are required for throwing an implement’. “Finger flexor and extensor muscles are non-functional making grip of the implement difficult. The non-throwing hand usually requires strapping to the throwing frame,” the IPC rule states.
A classification panel can, however, decide to conduct further evaluation sessions on an athlete ‘based on a number of factors,’ as per the World Para Athletics classification rules. These, the rules state, include but are not limited ‘to situations, where the Athlete has only recently entered Competitions, sanctioned or recognised by World Para Athletics; has a fluctuating and/or progressive Impairment/Impairments that is/are permanent but not stable; and/or has not yet reached full muscular skeletal or sports maturity.’
According to the World Para Athletics database, Kumar’s classification status for the current year was already under review. Whether the athlete was aware of this, or if the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) made him aware, is not clear. PCI president Deepa Malik could not be reached for a comment on this. However, she was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India: “Classifications done previously can be challenged during competitions and can be overruled also. There is nothing that India can do now.”
The bronze Vinod Kumar had secured by making the third-best throw will not be awarded to him.