The Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) water sports centre at Alappuzha, where rowing trainee Aparna Ramabhadran committed suicide, is the country’s top centre for rowing.
At last year’s senior nationals in Pune, out of the eight gold medals at stake in the women’s section, the Alappuzha trainees pocketed six gold and two silver. At the National Games in Kerala this year, women trainees of the centre won four gold and as many silver.
When it comes to facilities, the centre has none. The fitness centre doesn’t have specific training machines for water sports and there is a shortage of rowing equipment too.
The trainees get to train on water for only six-seven months. The rest of the time they have to depend on groundwork. Housing 40 trainees in rowing, the centre has only 11 boats and surprisingly no oars.
The trainees are dependent on the Kerala Rowing Association for oars, which issues its oars during training for competitions. The number of boats too is insufficient so only those age-group trainees get to practice whose competitions are approaching.
“As the centre doesn’t have oars, we provide trainees with the association’s personal oars,” said Sreekumara Kurup, secretary-general of the Kerala Rowing Association.
SHORT OF COACHES TOO
The last couple of weeks only sub-junior and challenger athletes are training on water as the Nationals are from June 9-14. The rest of the trainees are doing groundwork.
“It’s the country’s best training centre and the results speak about its stature. But when it comes to facilities, there are hardly any,” said Kurup.
“We have spoken to DG, SAI about the problems and have also requested him to depute an assistant director- level officer and more coaches. Right now there are only two coaches and looking at the number of trainees and the results the centre is producing, there should be more coaches,” he added.