It is confirmed that Manjeet Kaur, the national record holder in women's 400metres, will not compete at the 51st Open National Athletics Meet, which got underway in Kolkata on Saturday.
More than the absence, what is baffling is her reason for skipping the season’s last domestic meet, which assumes importance as it is an Olympic qualifying event.
In USA for training?
According to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), she is nursing an injury, but her employers, Punjab Police, claim Manjeet is in the US for advanced training for the London Games. Manjeet had been training at the national Olympic preparatory camp in Patiala, on since the beginning of February, before her mysterious disappearance in late June. The timing is interesting as it coincided with the doping scandal that rocked Indian athletics.
At a time when the AFI is struggling to rebuild the women's 4x400m relay team, of which she has been a key figure since 2003, Manjeet’s unavailability rankles. “She is on the injury list, she had given us in writing that she would not be attending the national camp,” said AFI director, ML Dogra. “Since then, we are unaware of her whereabouts,” he added.
If Manjeet is indeed injured, how did she continue to be a part of the camp, and go on to participate in the Inter-State Meet at Bangalore in June?
Recently promoted to deputy superintendent of police, Manjeet arrived in Phillaur, from Bangalore, and underwent (departmental) training for a few days before slipping away.
Isher Chand Sharma, inspector general of police (training cell), said, “She has gone to LA for advanced training. The exposure trip has been approved.”