It's official. Belarusian middle and long-distance coach, Nikolai Snesarev, will not be part of the coaching staff preparing the elite Indian athletes for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
In a communication sent to the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) and Sports Authority of India (SAI), the athletics expert has expressed his inability to join the camp, thus ending the month-long speculation over the renewal of his contract.
After Nikolai's contract expired in November 2010 after the Guangzhou Asian Games, he had demanded an increase in remuneration. Initially, the SAI had rejected the request, but grudgingly agreed to enhance it from $5000 to $7000 per month.
SAI had also agreed to employ Nikolai's wife, a qualified masseur, on a monthly salary of $3000. But SAI's new proposal, according to an AFI official, didn't 'excite' the Belarusian expert, who replied that he was too busy now, and would give it a thought after the London Games. With Nikolai departing, the country's top athletes preparing for the London Games will definitely feel his absence. Pankaj Dimri, a leading middle-distance runner, said Nikolai had helped him reach a different level in 800m.
In the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Dimri was clocking 1:46.2 seconds, but missed the quadrennial event due to injury. During his stint in Indian, Nikolai had improved the timings of several athletes including Preeja Sreedharan, Sudha Singh and Kavita Raut and many of them gave a good account of themselves in the CWG and the Guangzhou Asian Games.
Nikolai had also polished the skills of 10,000m runner Surender Singh. The Army man was the most consistent runner from 2006 to 2009.
The AFI has started looking for another foreign expert, but with almost all top coaches busy preparing athletes for the London Games, the national federation will have to make do with homebred coaches.