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Singha Roy in trouble after clash of interests

Call it a case of ego-clash or that of difference in expertise, but end of the day, a promising Indian athlete is bearing the brunt of it.

Written by Navneetsingh | New Delhi | December 7, 2007 11:51:24 pm

Call it a case of ego-clash or that of difference in expertise, but end of the day, a promising Indian athlete is bearing the brunt of it.

Sports Authority of India (SAI) athletics coach Kuntal Roy and Mittal Champions Trust administrator Manisha Malhotra have very different opinions about where heptathlete Sushmita Singha Roy (picture top) should train.

A fight over that has resulted in a premature termination of her contract with the trust. Her five-year-old contract has been ended after just nine months.

That has complicated things, says Roy, adding that financial constraints are becoming a huge obstacle in her preparations for the Beijing Olympics. “We are trying our best to get some sponsors, but nothing concrete has happened so far,” Roy said.

A comparison of India’s top heptathletes:

Asian Championship (2005): Incheon Soma Biswas: Gold (5377 points) Sushmita Singha Roy: Silver (5308 points)

Asian Games (2006): Doha Soma Biswas: Silver (5675 points) JJ Shobha: Bronze (5662 points)

Asian Championship (2007): Amman JJ Shobha: Silver (5356 points) Sushmita Singha Roy: Bronze (5154 points)

According to Roy, the Mittal Trust has done more damage to his ward than assisting her. “Other business houses and government departments are still under the impression that we are getting huge amount of money from them. But the facts are different,” he said. Sushmita, an employee of the Railways, comes from a middle class family, and it is beyond her means to provide the finances required to train for the Olympics on her own, says Roy.

To put things into perspective, a pair of good quality track shoes will cost over Rs 7,000, and six to seven pairs are needed in a year, he added.

When the Mittal Champions Trust signed up Sushmita in April 2006, things had started to look bright for the athlete. Sushmita had a short training stint in the US, which was a part of her preparation for international competitions. But this is where the problem started.

According to Roy, conditions during the training camp were not acceptable. In the US, Sushmita, had undergone metabolic and muscular tests. She did conditioning training at Arizona’s Athletics Performance Institute, under the supervision of sports performance trainer Stephen Bienko. She also participated in a few meets there. The Mittal Trust may claim to have appointed the best in the business, but Roy was not satisfied with Bienko’s training.

He said: “I wasn’t happy with his training. Moreover, the Trust didn’t give us a clear picture of future training plans. For a long stint in the US, at least the name of the coach should have been disclosed.”

Despite inadequate funds, Roy wants to go ahead with their Olympic plans, “We have chalked out our programme. Hopefully by March next, Sushmita will be able to achieve the Olympics’ qualification mark of 6000 points.”

About her not-so-encouraging performance in the recent past, he said that she had gone through some rough patches. Despite a good performance she was excluded from the Doha Asian Games squad.

“That episode drained her psychologically. She also suffered from an ankle injury. But she is training hard now,” he added.

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