Complicated qualification rules for the Olympics leave many athletes fuming because quota spots are often reserved for a country rather than an athlete. So Olympic medal winning shooter Rajyavardhan Rathore missed out on a spot for the London Games and now India's top swimmers are in the same boat.
The poster boys of Indian swimming Virdhawal Khade and Sandeep Sejwal are not going to London for the Olympic Games. Instead India's sole representation at the games will be lesser known Gagan Ulalmath of Karnataka.
Virdhawal Khade, who made history for India by winning a bronze at the last Asian Games, has missed out along with Sandeep Sejwal because they only achieved the B qualifying mark of the Olympics.
Normally, the B qualifying mark is good enough to qualify for the Olympics with A qualifying assuring a swimmer of participation. But this year FINA the governing body of swimming reduced the field by almost half to 900 swimmers, and that's why four Indians missed out.
"First of all I couldn't believe it, because we thought we had done what was required to be done to get to the Olympics and if anything we should have been there instead of him, it's a little unfair. I mean it's not about giving someone younger the chance and if you look at it that way, Phelps should not be there at the Olympics," Virdhawal Khade said.
Gagan Ulalmath will now represent India in 1500 metres freestyle. He was picked by the federation after FINA granted India a universality quota, which is basically a wildcard.
While Ulalmath competed at the world swimming championships last year, most people believe that Khade or Sejwal should have got the wildcard. But the federation disagrees.
"Do you know that the latest performance of these two swimmers has been disheartening? They even failed to make their original timing. Now both Virdhawal and Sandeep Sejwal have already participated in the Olympics, so at least one new swimmer will be getting an Olympic participation," said Virendra Nanavati, Secretary, Indian Swimming Federation.
India could have had four swimmers at the London Olympics. Instead they will now have one because of ambiguous rules. In fact the recent Bhupathi-Paes controversy also has much to do with confusing rules. Sadly the Indian sports federations always come off looking the worst for their inability to support the athletes.