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MP athletes start career when others win medals

Most of athletes in Madhya Pradesh start their career very late, jeopardizing their chances of winning medals at the highest level, experts said on Sunday.

bhopal Updated: Sep 12, 2016 05:44 IST
Athletes in action during men’s 100-metre race at the 56th inter-district athletics championship at Tatya Tope Stadium in Bhopal recently.
Athletes in action during men’s 100-metre race at the 56th inter-district athletics championship at Tatya Tope Stadium in Bhopal recently. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

Most of athletes in Madhya Pradesh start their career very late, jeopardizing their chances of winning medals at the highest level, experts said on Sunday.

In the State-Level Athletics Championship that concluded in Bhopal on Sunday, most of the winners of under-20, under-18 and under-16 age groups took part in a competition for the first time.

An expert said: “Though these players were being trained in academies and Sports Authority of India (SAI) but how can we expect medal at international-level from these late comers. They neither have much flexible body nor stamina.”

Even, players do realise that they started late and it is tough for them to perform well.

Jumper Harshit Joshi, 15, said, “I didn’t get guidance to choose athletics as career at an early age. A year ago, I got admission into an academy in Bhilai then only I realised sports can be my career. I know that I got late in this field but I feel my passion will help me.”

Sprinter Nikita Malakar, 18, said, “I have started professional practice in MP Athletics Academy just three months ago. I am aware of my weakness as Dutee Chand of my age has already represented India in Olympics and I am participating in the state-level meet for the first time. My best timing for 100m is 12.08 seconds. I am sure I will touch nation’s best timing 11.38 second soon.”

Silver medal winning long distance runner Asha Chaudhary, 24, said, “Self-motivation helped me to choose sports as a career at the age of 14.”

But some players feel that age factor doesn’t matter. 17-year-old Sachin Kumar Yadav, a trainee with Sports Authority of India, said, “I have opted for long distance running eight months ago. Earlier, I used to play football but I feel age factor will not affect my performance.”

Athletics Federation of India joint secretary Mumtaz Khan said, “I have visited Brazil for the Rio Olympics and I saw many teenagers, who won medals for their countries because they have started at an early age in school. In India and particularly in MP, there is dearth of facilities for athletics at grass root-level.”

“At the school-level, children don’t get much exposure and facilities to choose athletics as their career. They opt athletics as career after 14 and 15 years. We can’t expect miracle in performance in just few years. I think this is reason behind our poor performance in the World Championships and Olympics,” said Khan, the organizer of the state-level athletics meet.