Without competitions, very difficult for athletes to stay motivated: Uwe Hohn
As javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra gets ready for his next meet, Sweden’s Karlstad GP, back home Shivpal Singh must be really desperate for meets.
Shivpal, like Chopra, has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics but the Athletics Federation of India’s plans to send him and others to Turkey and more recently to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan for competitions have failed. Visa restrictions and 14-day quarantine have often been given out as hurdles for athletes’ travel abroad.
That brings us to the big question: Why didn’t the AFI try the ‘Chopra model’ to send Shivpal and others abroad at this crucial stage with the Olympics just 40 days away. Chopra, the country’s brightest hope for a medal in Tokyo, flew to Portugal via France on June 6 and won a meet in Lisbon four days later.
“We tried since ages to get a camp or get to Europe for competitions for our top throwers but it’s very difficult because of strict restrictions of other countries. But there is also no support from AFI or SAI. And the fact that Neeraj was able to leave is based on contacts of JSW (which is supporting him),” said German Uwe Hohn, the national javelin throw coach, in a chat with The Hindu on Monday.
“Few athletes had one competition in 2020, for others last competition was in 2019 so they need to catch some competition. It’s part of training and eight to 10 competitions should be okay.”
Some Indian shooters, swimmers, wrestlers and boxers are either training or taking part in events abroad.
So one can imagine the frustration of athletes like Shivpal, Annu Rani (19th and well placed on the Road to Tokyo women’s javelin rankings), long jumper M. Sreeshankar (qualified), shotputter Tajinderpal Singh Toor and the 4x400m men’s and women’s relay runners who are in the danger zone in the rankings. They are all desperate for competitions.
“Athletes realise that there’s no support from anyone… so it’s also very difficult to stay motivated,” said Hohn a former world record holder. “Probably only Neeraj will have the advantage of international competitions (before Tokyo).”
AFI president Adille Sumariwalla and SAI director-general Sandip Pradhan did not respond to calls or messages sent for their version.
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