It's alien to the sport, but it's a reality in India.
Canoe/kayak slalom, also known as whitewater slalom, is conducted in rushing waters, but the Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association (IKCA) is holding the national slalom camp in the still waters of a lake.
After the February 11-March 27 camp in Bhopal, the Indian squad will take part in the 2013 ICF Ranking Canoe Slalom Championship in Markkleeberg, Germany, from March 29-31.
On the basis of the national white-water slalom kayaking and canoeing championship, held in the river Sindh in Sonamarg (Kashmir) in September, the IKCA named 20 probables, and the final team is to be announced soon.
"Even an inexperienced hand would not have held the national camp in still waters, but the governing body of the sport did this unbelievable thing, that too when we have options available in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh," said a national medallist, who is attending the camp in Bhopal. "I don't know why the Sports Authority of India (SAI), which is bearing the expenditure of the camp, did not raise objections," questioned another player. Adding insult to injury, the campers have been travelling five hours daily for the past two days to train in the Narmada. "To have a feel of the rapids, we decided to take the players to the Narmada four days a week. Though we understand it is difficult for them to spend five hours in travel, this is the only solution we have right now," said chief coach Rafiq Ahmed.
When contacted by HT, IKCA secretary-general, Balbir Singh Kushwaha, who hails from Bhopal, said, "We have a good facility, so that's why we hosted the camp here." "Kashmir is an option but we can't have a camp there because of security reasons. At places where we have rapids, the cold has made it unfeasible for holding a camp," he added.
The international event is taking place in Markkleeberg, where the current minimum temperature has touched -6 degrees Celsius. What the association probably forgot was that a camp in such conditions would have helped the players acclimatise.