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Last-minute flyer Eldose Paul gets lucky with 10-year US visa

Six-month visa for Sreeshankar, Aldrin and Chithravel; Dhanalakshmi explains reasons for missing Worlds

July 15, 2022 08:18 pm | Updated 08:38 pm IST - KOCHI

S. Dhanalakshmi during the 61st National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on June 14, 2022.

S. Dhanalakshmi during the 61st National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on June 14, 2022. | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ

Despite running around for a few days in New Delhi for his visa and then a late dash to the USA for the World Athletics Championships, which began in Oregon on Friday, triple jumper Eldose Paul was thanking his stars.

“I got a 10-year US visa,” Paul told The Hindu soon after landing in Oregon on Friday.

Many others were not so lucky.

Long jumpers M. Sreeshankar and Jeswin Aldrin (who flew business class to the US with JSW upgrading his Government-booked ticket after he was cleared late for the Worlds) and triple jumper Praveen Chithravel have got only six-month visas.

One learns that almost all who went in the first batch for their visa interview got six-month visas, while many in the next few groups were lucky to get 10-year visas. A 10-year US visa would have been very beneficial for athletes, like Sreeshankar, who plan to train in Chula Vista next year too.

The US visa issue has made headlines all over the world, with some either forced to miss the Worlds, as they were denied visas, or land a few hours before their event as they got them late.

Indian athletes had to face a trickier situation as they also had to complete the UK visa formalities for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham soon after the Worlds.

Dhanalakshmi forced to miss Worlds

That put S. Dhanalakshmi, India’s fastest woman this year who had qualified for the Worlds in the 200m through the world rankings route, in a dilemma.

Though the US Embassy had opened a special window for Indians going to the Worlds, Dhanalakshmi was forced to miss her visa interview in late June as she was running in Almaty that day and clocked the third-fastest 200m time by an Indian there (22.89s).

Focus on Commonwealth Games

“Since I had gone to Kazakhstan, my US visa appointment got cancelled. And for the Commonwealth Games, they had put my UK visa appointment for July 1. I had to attend that, and my passport got held up there,” said Dhanalakshmi, explaining the reason for missing the Worlds.

“I’m disappointed but I thought I’d focus on the Commonwealth and do well there.

“Anyway, the competition will be very tough at the Worlds. In the Commonwealth (where she has been entered in 100m and 4x100m relay), probably if we try hard, we could win a (relay) medal. So, I thought I’d stay back and train here. Anyway, we have the World Championships next year too.”

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