Para athletes see opportunities in Citi-International Paralympic Committee partnership
"Great, amazing news!"
That was the reaction from Para Asian Games gold medallist Ekta Bhyan to the news of Citi's partnership agreement with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
This means that Citi has become an international partner to the National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) in 18 countries that are preparing for the upcoming world and regional Championships and the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
"Citi and the IPC are ideal partners because we share a deep passion for helping to foster a more diverse and inclusive society," said Citi CEO Michael Corbat. "These athletes have overcome adversity to achieve the world's most elite level of sporting excellence. Their strength, perseverance and determination is truly what makes them exceptional, and we look forward to supporting their journey to compete on the global stage."
Bhyan, who created history as the first female gold medallist in the Para Games from Haryana sees in this agreement a major step towards inclusion.
This means para sports is getting recognition from corporates and this is vital, especially in developing nations like India. It will be a great step towards inclusiveness. - Ekta Bhyan, Para Asian Games medallist
Citi will sponsor the NPCs of Australia, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and the UAE.
The plan is to reach out to these countries through a local presence in the NPC and to engage fans through integrated marketing campaigns and promotions.
Para swimming champ Mohammed Shams Aalam Shaikh is especially excited to learn that Citi will work to help support the day-to-day needs of individual NPCs.
Citi, which has been involved in the Paralympic Movement for over six years, has supported prominent American Paralympians in the past, featuring them prominently in marketing campaigns. These include Olympic gold medallists Gabby Douglas, Kerri Walsh Jennings, and Nathan Adrian, and Paralympic gold medallist Rudy Garcia-Tolson.
"Citibank have always been great supporters of the Paralympic movement internationally", says Shaikh. "This news is amazing and makes me really happy because it shows that they are ready to help other countries like India. It would be great if the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) gets official support from Citi. This would help in training and nurturing athletes for world events".
Shaikh hopes that this will translate into support for both established as well as emerging athletes. "If the PCI were to structure the program such that elite as well as emerging athletes are supported, India has a good chance of raising its medal tally and international ranking".
Indian para sports is definitely on a high. The haul of 72 medals in the 2018 Asian Para Games is it's best showing ever and the growing attention and recognition will hopefully lead to Indian corporates stepping up with funding and training opportunities.
"Nowadays we para athletes are performing better than the so-called able-bodied athletes", points out Shaikh. "So, I urge companies to invest in the Paralympic movement and enable us to grow".