Updated: September 7, 2021 7:22:31 am
No apparatus for pole vaulters. No safety net around the throwing arena. The Delhi State Athletics Meet to select the squad for the Nationals were beset by inadequate infrastructure at the country’s premier track and field venue – the Sports Authority of India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. While the pole vault couldn’t take place; the discus and hammer throw posed a risk to athletes and officials assembled at the venue.
Officials of the Delhi state association said it was the stadium management’s responsibility to provide the pole vault apparatus and ensure the venue was competition-ready.
“We booked the practice area since renovation work is going on in the main stadium. We booked the stadium two weeks back and they have to ensure all the equipment needed for an athletics meet is in place,” said a senior official from the association.
With the Open Nationals in Warangal slated for September 15, the city’s pole vaulters are fretting over lack of practice. The issue of the non-availability of pole vault apparatus, the athletes say, dates back to the time when sporting activities came to a halt in the Capital during the second coronavirus wave.
“We had a pit earlier but authorities took it away saying it was old and not fit for use. But there is no clarity on if and when another pit will arrive anytime soon. I haven’t been able to practise at all and there’s a national meet in two weeks. I will skip it. I don’t want to go there without training,” said a junior Asian medallist.
The throwing arena in the practice area of the stadium looked in dire need of repair. The lack of netting not only posed a risk to those present near the arena but affects the competitors’ focus, said a medallist in the U-18 discus throw event on Monday.
“It’s very dangerous. The chances of something going awry are very high.”
Pole vaulter Devraj Singh, the 2019 Delhi state champion, will take part in the Open Nationals in Warangal but admits his chance of medalling look bleak with “no practice”.
“I work on the night shift as a guard and do my training at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. I requested the authorities to allow us to at least use the old pit until we have a new one but they did not agree,” says Devraj.
‘Another meet for vaulters’
When association secretary Sandeep Mehta was asked what would be the fate of the city’s pole vaulters, he said: “We will organise a meet for our vaulters soon. We are in the process of finalising another venue,” he said.
An administrative staff at the venue, who was identified as the store in-charge by athletes, refused to comment. The other official the store in-charge directed the reporter to wasn’t available in his cabin. The Sports Authority of India media team was reached out for a comment as well but there has been no response till the edition went to print.
pic caption: The U-18 discus throw event at the Delhi State Meet takes place without proper safety netting at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Monday.