At a time when chief national coach Bahadur Singh is pinning hopes only on India’s foreign coaches for winning medals at the highest level, the foreign coaches seem to have a completely contrasting opinion, raising questions about Indian athletes’ killer instinct.
Yury Ogorodnik, the Ukranian coach for middle-distance running who has been coaching in India since 1999, didn’t hesitate in making it clear that it’s not possible even for foreign coaches to prepare medal winners for top international events unless the country’s leading athletes get “tough and dedicated” towards the sport.
Yury said: “Since the time of my first batch of wards in India, like KM Beenamol and Saraswati Saha, I haven’t found any leading athlete till now who has shown the kind of determination required to be at the highest level.”
Yury also expressed concerns over the Indian coaches’ inability to constantly update themselves on modern training styles. “Most of these athletes who have been representing the country are also trained by their personal coaches. But I have noticed that once the athletes go back home and return to national preparatory camp with guidance and inputs from their personal coaches, they simply lose their previous timings. Indian coaches need education under qualified foreign coaches for modern-day coaching techniques so that their standard of training will be at par with foreign coaches.”
Marek Kubishevski, the Polish coach for heptathletes, in charge of India’s leading heptathlete duo of JJ Shobha and V Leelavathi, is of the same opinion. He, too, believes that Indian athletes, despite having enough potential, don’t work hard enough to become champions at the highest level.
The coach told this daily: “Age cannot be a factor. When Urszula Wlodarczyk, the renowned Polish heptathlete, finished fourth in the 2000 Sydney Olympics won the gold medal in the World Championship later that year, she was 35. She had trained under me for 10 long years.
“I had once noticed that Shobha didn’t have that zeal. She often used to get tired whenever I made her try a little harder in the conditioning and endurance exercises. But now, her attitude is slowly showing a big change. Despite the improvement, it’s next to impossible for her to win the gold medal in an event like the Olympics.”
Shanthi withdraws from all meets till next year
Kolkata: Shanthi Soundarajan, who won the silver medal in the 800 metres event in the Doha Asian Games, only to find herself get stripped of the title following the controversial failed gender test, seems to have said good bye to athletics for good. At least, that’s what the top Athletics Federation of India (AFI) officials would have us believe.
A senior AFI executive, who is in the city for the Federation Cup, told The Indian Express about a letter that the athlete has sent to the Federation. The AFI functionary said: “Shanthi sent a letter to the AFI recently, withdrawing from all AFI-organised national level meets for the next couple of years. After this, I don’t think she will ever be seen in action again.”