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Not in the running yet

Amiya Kumar Mallick’s chance to train under Usain Bolt’s coach is good news but India must find its own route to excellence.

comment Updated: Jan 09, 2014 00:29 IST

An Indian athlete heading to train under the supervision of the world’s best known track coach at the moment should be praised for the sheer ambition it denotes. Amiya Kumar Mallick, 22, a sprinter from Orissa, will train under Glen Mills, the coach of Usain Bolt, at his Racers Track Club in Kingston. Mallick, who will head to Jamaica next week, is being funded by the Orissa government for his four-month training stint. Mallick’s favourite event is the 200 metres in which his performance made him eligible for the programme being run by Mills.

Mallick will be the envy of many aspiring track athletes as he will get to rub shoulders with Bolt and Yohan Blake, who have not just charmed the world with their speed down the track but also with their humility. The experience should also help Mallick see first hand how some of the world’s finest train and what are the best training methods to be adopted. There is huge novelty value as well in this trip as not many track athletes have gone abroad on individual stints.

Most such programmes are restricted to top-notch athletes that too as a group before major games. However, one cannot expect any drastic improvement overnight in an athlete whose 100 metres best is only 10.5 seconds with the 21.22 which he clocked in the longer sprint event too modest by Asian standards (the national record is 20.73). Mallick has set his sights on the Asian Games but winning a medal even there will be a big challenge judging by his level at the moment.

Mallick will definitely get plenty of advice on improving his fitness but it remains to be seen who are the other athletes who take up the programme and whether they have the kind of experience to benefit them. The reality check will also be provided by the fact that India, for all the noises of wanting to take global competition head on in the sporting arena, still doesn’t have cutting edge training systems in place that will not just benefit the finest athletes in the country but also encourage young men and women coming up through the ranks.