An Indian running alongside sprint legend Usain Bolt in an Olympic final may seem remote at the moment, but a young 200-metre sprinter from Orissa, Amiya Mallick, is set to train under Bolt’s coach Glen Mills.
It was after Mallick won gold clocking 21.22 seconds at the 53rd National Open Senior Athletics Championship in Ranchi in September that the Odisha Olympic Association got in touch with Mills in Kingston, Jamaica.
“My association sent all the details to them in Kingston and after seeing my records here in India, they were ready to allow me to train there for four months under Mills. I will be at the Racers Track Club where he coaches Bolt and a host of others like Yohan Blake,” the 21-year-old sprinter said.
Mallick will be the first Indian to venture out to the Caribbean to train under a coach who has mentored an Olympic sprint legend.
Apart from the expert guidance of Mills, Mallick will also have access to the core group of trainers and physios at Racers, who will help him on strengthening and other aspects of his training.
Mallick will fly to Jamaica in the next two weeks and although he is excited about the stint, he is well aware that this career-changing sojourn could help him make the next level.
The idea behind sending Mallick to Kingston came from the Odisha Athletics Association’s (OAA) initiatives to send athletes abroad for training. Savari Nanda, a 100 and 200-metre sprinter, has already visited Australia as part of OAA’s programme.
“We were checking on the Internet for possible places to send Amiya and we stumbled upon Glen Mills’ management’s website. We applied there, sending them all the details, and we got a positive response a month later,” said Pramodha Mohanty, CEO of OAA.
However, the biggest challenge in sending the athlete abroad was securing sponsors for the Rs 8-lakh that was needed for the programme.
“We had to work hard to get sponsors to agree to the prospect,” Mohanty said. “Eventually we convinced them by telling them that the boy’s talent will work well to win an Olympic medal if he is given some foreign aid.”
The OAA, Tata Steel, Mahanadi Coal Trust, Odisha Mining Corp and Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology all chipped in to fund Mallick’s training, travel and accommodation.
“I will learn how they train and how to get ready before any big competition. There is no aim set, but yes, if I want to do well at the Asian Games next year then I want to break the 20.7 national record in 200 metres which is very tough at the moment,” he explained.
Mallick came into the limelight when he secured a bronze in the 200 metres at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune in 2008. For a young man from Bhubaneswar, Mallick said his career had hit a road-block when he suffered a serious leg injury which needed surgery.
“I had an open quadriceps surgery and things weren’t fine. I was out of form and to get back to where I am took a lot of hard-work,” he said.
Even though there is little chance to meet Bolt or to train with him, Mallick is hoping he can get lucky. “I think he won’t be there as he will be competing. If he comes then it will be the best thing to happen for me. I will see him training live. What more can I ask for?” he adds.