There has been an alarmingly high number of Indian athletes who are struggling at the world stage in the 400m, especially with a lot of the top stars injured. Questions are being raised about what is happening at the National relay camps conducted in countries like Poland and the Czech Republic.
These teams are being mentioned as possible winners of Olympic medals but the failure to reach the finals of men’s and women’s is seen as a massive stumbling block.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adille Sumariwalla has calmed the nerves down and wants everybody to be patient.
“We went very high at the Asian Games, but just one year later, everybody is asking why should we have the relay team.Unless you have an eight-to-10-year plan, we can never win,” said Sumariwalla, in a conversation with The Hindu.
“After one setback, if you are going to say, ‘oh, let’s throw out the relay’, then you’re finished. This is the saddest part of Indian sport, we are so short-sighted. Poland played at the relay for eight to 12 years. They got hammered, they never qualified, but today they are in the top three to four. So also Belgium,” added Sumariwalla
That being said, there is a serious lack of quality in the 400m runners albeit with many injured. Even after the arrival of the stunning 19-year-old Kiran from Haryana, there are not many that are excited. She popped up out of nowhere and gave an absolute shock to this season’s fastest 400m runner Anjali Devi and was also a serious threat to V.K.Vismaya. She ended up taking the silver in the women’s 400m. Kiran and Anjali are trained by the same coach Rohtas Siwach in Rohtak.
Another concern for the AFI is doping. Lot more needs to be done after the recent doping ban on former 400m Asian champion Nirmala Sheoran. “We have absolutely no doubt about it. Before, we may have done a 1000 tests. Do we need to test more? Yes, but the Government has to do that,” added Sumariwalla.
Injuries are part of the sport but they have weakened the relay teams, he said, “In sport, you get injuries. This is the problem of depending on one Neeraj Chopra and one Hima Das.”
“Today, the javelin is improving because we have people throwing 80m. Tomorrow, when you have eight women quartermilers running 52s, then you will see how things change completely,” he added.