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Walkers threaten walk out from camp

Athletes preparing in Poland for upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics qualifying competition were unhappy with the diet and lack of a masseur.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: June 2, 2016 1:41:21 am
Rio 2016 Olympics, 2016 Olympics, India athletes Rio 2016, Walkers SAI Poland, India Walkers Poland, India walkers Spala, Athletes training Spala, Spala training, sports news, sports SAI DG Injeti Srinivas claimed he was yet to hear back from the athletes on whether they had been given the required help or not.

The Indian race walking team, currently training in Spala, Poland, had threatened to walk out of the training camp organised by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) as they were unhappy with the diet and the lack of a masseur. The walkers who had travelled from Rome — where they participated in the IAAF World Race Walk Team Championships — were also upset that on one occasion they had to skip a meal as they were caught up with training and missed the canteen timings.

The unhappy walkers informed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) about their situation. Realising they could face major embarrassment if the walkers left the training centre and returned to India, the AFI got into fire-fighting mode. Federation officials got in touch with the walkers and tried to convince them to stay back.

A top AFI official claimed the walkers have retracted from their stand of wanting to return to Bangalore but SAI director general Injeti Srinivas told The Indian Express that he was yet to be informed about the change of plan.

“They said they would prefer to train in Bangalore. There were some adjustment issues, they were not comfortable with the food and conditions, that is what I believe. The race-walkers had unanimously conveyed their desire to train in Bangalore and TOPS sub-committee had acceded to the request and given proper advisory to the AFI,” Srinivas said.

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The SAI DG added that he has heard from the AFI that issues faced by the walkers had been addressed, but since he is yet to hear from the athletes, their request to return to Bangalore from Spala stands.

“I understand from the federation that all these issues have been addressed. But since I have not heard anything after that from the athletes, naturally, we will go by their initial request. We had asked them (walkers) that if the issues were addressed would they like to continue training there (Spala) and will it be more advantageous? But they opined that that was not the case and they would be happier and better off in Bangalore,” Srinivas added.

It is learnt that the walkers who participated in the world team championships had a masseur as part of the coaching staff. However, the masseur didn’t join the team in Spala. The absence of a masseur forced them to wait till the quarter-milers and the throwers got off the massage table.

Moreover, according to a walker who is in Spala, they had to miss a meal because they did not arrive at the canteen during ‘meal timings’. “We were training and were a little delayed. But we were told that meal timings were over. We understand that there are rules but when we are preparing for the Olympics we need to be in an environment which caters to our training schedule and not the other way around,” the walker said.

The walkers have also complained to the SAI DG that they are unhappy with the quality of food in Spala.

“It was a spur of the moment reaction from the walkers. They were upset that there was no masseur exclusively for them in Spala. They only got further agitated when they had issues regarding to the food. They should have taken up the matter with the AFI or the chief national coach before directly approaching the Sports Authority of India,” a top AFI official, who didn’t want to be quoted, said.

“The walkers will speak to the director general of SAI to inform him of their decision to continue training in Spala,” the official added when asked about their decision to return home.

Whether the walkers remain in Spala or train in Bangalore, it is clear the athletes, all of whom have qualified for the Olympics, are unhappy with the treatment meted out to them at a training camp organised at the behest of the AFI.

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