The tragedy unfolding in the aftermath of the Kerala floods echoes in faraway Indonesia where over 40 athletes from the state are oscillating between anxiety and concern for loved ones while trying to focus on their Asian Games campaigns.
A swimmer didn’t even know of it until a journalist enquired, a sprinter is worried while a hockey player is just relieved that his family is in a safe zone even though he is heartbroken for his state.
India’s chef-de-mission at the Games, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, said that the athletes will be updated on the status of their families after seeking the home ministry’s assistance.
“We will approach the home ministry to find the whereabouts of missing family members of the Kerala athletes. They need support and we want them to compete without taking any load,” Singh said.
“I know it’s difficult when such tragedies happen but we will try to get assuring news for them,” he added.
Kerala’s representation is strong in the Indian teams of athletics, volleyball, and basketball besides a significant presence in squads for swimming and hockey.
The athletes are dealing with the conflicting emotions of being far away from home amid a calamity that has claimed over 300 lives till now.
“My family is in a safe zone but a lot of my relatives and friends are affected by the terrible floods. I did not expect the situation to be so severe. It is a sad situation,” said sprinter Muhammed Anas, who is the 400m national record-holder and a strong medal-contender at the ongoing Games.
Swimmer Sajan Prakash, who finished fifth in the 200m butterfly event last night, is still awaiting some update on his family members but managed to break the national record nonetheless.
“...I was seeing the news and a reporter here, who was in touch, informed me. He told me that he spoke to my mother and members of my family are affected by the floods in Kerala,” Sajan revealed.
“My mother is in Tamil Nadu but my maternal family members are stuck in Kerala. We haven’t been able to contact them. I would like to hope they are at a safe place,”he added.
Sajan’s family members are based in the village of Maniyarankudi in Idukki, one of the worst-affected districts.
Hockey captain PR Sreejesh said even though his family is safe, his heart goes out to the affected people.
“I feel for those who are affected in my home state. It’s time we as Indians should unite and extend all our help to the people of Kerala. The state has never witnessed such devastation. My wife is from Idukki which is severely affected,” he said.