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India's middle and long-distance coach Nikolai Snesarev of Belarus was found dead in his hostel room at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala on Friday.
The 72-year-old Snesarev had come to India after a gap of two years to be in charge till September end. AFI President Adille Sumariwala told PTI, "We don't know the cause of death. We will know it later after post mortem. Snesarev was at the NIS running track in the morning with his wards but did not turn up for the meet which started at 2 pm. He died with his boots on, having overseen his wards' training this morning."
Snesarev was coaching 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable, who has already qualified for the Olympics. Besides, the other middle and long-distance runners were also under his tutelage who were in their bid to qualify for the Tokyo Games. He had quit from the position in February 2019 after Sable opted to leave him and train under Army coach Amrish Kumar. His contract then was till the end of the Olympics, postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Snesarev first arrived in India in 2005 to take charge of 10,000m runners Preeja Sreedharan and Kavita Raut, who finished first and second in the 1-2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. Sudha Singh, who won gold in the 2010 Asian Games, was also under his charge.
It was he who had suggested Lalita Babar shift to steeplechase. Babar became the first Indian athlete to reach a track event final in the Olympic Games since PT Usha in 1984 when she made it to the steeplechase final in the 2016 Rio Olympics.