Reigning Asian Games 400m hurdles champion, Joseph Abraham, is at his wit’s end after his plan to achieve Olympic qualification in Europe was shot down by the Athletics Federation of India.
Abraham’s proposal to compete in at least three races in Europe, beginning May 31, received lukewarm response from the AFI, forcing him to alter his training schedule and focus on the June 23-26 national inter-state meet in Hyderabad.
Abraham’s winning time of 49.98 seconds at the Federation Cup in Patiala last month fell short of the Olympic ‘B’ qualification mark of 49.80sec.
He then submitted the European circuit proposal to the federation to qualify for London.
Sitting on the file
The Guangzhou Asian Games gold-medallist had submitted his proposal in the last week of April, and, it was forwarded to the Sports Authority of India (SAI). However, when SAI asked for the financial details, the AFI chose to sit on the file. “Hence the proposal wasn’t approved by the steering committee,” said a SAI official.
A similar proposal from long jumper, Ankit Sharma, to train in Italy for Olympic qualification was approved by the committee on May 18.
His season’s best is 7.79 metres, which is not even close to the Olympic ‘B’ standard of 8.10 metres.
Abraham, who holds the national record of 49.51s, refused to speak on the issue. “The AFI would know better,” he said.
AFI secretary-general, CK Valson, denied the allegations of step-motherly treatment towards Abraham. “I will check with SAI officials on Thursday and inform you about the status,” he said over phone from Chennai.
Even if the proposal gets cleared on Thursday, it’s too late for the hurdler. “By the time necessary visa formalities are completed, all three races in Europe would be over,” said Abraham’s coach Rajinder Singh Saini. Abraham had sent his proposal to compete in France (May 31 and June 6) and the Czech Republic (June 11).
Now the hurdler’s chances of qualifying for London rest on the Hyderabad meet and the two-day Asian All-star in Almaty (June 30-July 1).
Abraham had sent a proposal to train and compete in Europe in December as well. Then too, it was shot down.