Updated: August 13, 2021 1:12:55 pm
After Athletics Federation of India (AFI) chief Adille Sumariwalla said he had never heard of Kashinath Naik, who has been awarded Rs 10 lakh by the Karnataka government for coaching Neeraj Chpra, Naik Wednesday hit back, reiterating that the Tokyo javelin gold medallist was his student.
Sumariwalla, speaking to a Kannada newspaper recently, had said, “Neeraj was trained by foreign coaches for the last six years and one should not take away credit. I have never heard the name of Kashinath Naik.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Naik, an army personnel and a former coach in AFI, said, “I am surprised at Sumariwalla’s statement. I have coached Neeraj Chopra between 2015 and 2017. I had gone to Poland as an assistant coach to Neeraj Chopra. Gary Calvert was the head coach.”
Naik, speaking over the phone from Pune, asserted he will stand by his statement that he had coached Neeraj Chopra. “Neeraj is my student and I have coached him,” Naik said, while adding that he had spotted Neeraj first in a competition at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala.
The Karnataka government’s award for Naik, who hails from Sirsi, a town in Uttara Kannada district, was announced on Sunday. Naik had won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi in 2010 and has also represented the country at other international sporting events.
Naik claimed he had spoken to Neeraj over the phone about these issues. “I spoke to Neeraj on phone about the controversy and he said he will talk to me later since he is busy with other events and promised that he would discuss the issue with Sumariwalla. I am waiting for Neeraj’s call,” Naik added.
The official Olympics website mentions that Chopra had been mentored by Naik. “Hailing from Haryana, Neeraj Chopra has been mentored along the way by a succession of coaches, led by the legendary Uwe Hohn, and including Klaus Bartonietz, Gary Calvert, Werner Daniels, Kashinath Naik, Naseem Ahmad and Jaiveer Singh,” the site mentions.
Saying he has met Sumariwalla earlier, Naik questioned, “How can Sumariwalla not know me? We have met in many official meetings chaired by him ever since he became the President. I am not concerned about the prize money but I felt betrayed after the reports that the AFI president doesn’t recognise me and my hard work and contribution to our nation and sports. I hope Neeraj will soon clarify this.”
Meanwhile, Sumariwalla was further quoted as telling the regional newspaper, “I am awaiting an official announcement order from the Karnataka government. Once I get it, the federation will challenge this. All those who talked to Neeraj Chopra cannot be considered coaches. Neeraj Chopra never said Kashinath was his coach, I don’t know who Kashinath is.”
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