Sports hub Meerut needs world-class athletics track - Hindustan Times

Sports hub Meerut needs world-class athletics track

By, Lucknow
Oct 19, 2021 12:28 AM IST

Many top athletes who have excelled at the international level belong to Meerut but practise outside the city

In a virtual interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the Tokyo Olympics in July, national champion and record holder race-walker Priyanka Goswami drew attention to the need for an international standard athletics track in her hometown Meerut, which is a sports hub.

Athletics is a passion for young people in Meerut. (SOURCED IMAGE )
Athletics is a passion for young people in Meerut. (SOURCED IMAGE )

“We need to have international standard athletics track as well as dedicated coaches for young athletes,” Goswami said when the PM asked her about issues.

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In fact, Goswami, who finished a creditable 17th at the Summer Olympics after enjoying an early lead, was only repeating the long-pending demand of athletes of Meerut, which is also known as one of the biggest sports hubs of India.

Goswami, as well as many other top athletes who have consistently been doing well at the international level, including Asian Games gold medallist discus thrower Seema Punia, Asian Games bronze medallist javelin thrower Annu Rani, long distance runner Parul Chaudhary, Rupal Chaudhary, Vidhi Singh, Chavi Sherawat, Vishal Saxena, Kuldeep belong to Meerut but practise outside the city due to the unavailability of facilities for them. “That’s a reality for the athletes of Meerut and other neighbouring districts in western Uttar Pradesh,” Anu Kumar, secretary of Meerut Athletics Association, said.“There are over 1000 plus athletes in the area, but they don’t have facilities for training. The only government-run Kailash Prakash Stadium doesn’t have even hurdles to conduct an athletics meet.”

“That’s the reason why all our top athletes do train either at different SAI centres, New Delhi or go outside the country to train for the international events,” said Kumar, adding, “Even the government-run athletics hostel in Meerut was shifted elsewhere in 2005.”

Instead of an athletics track, the state government has been laying a hockey astro turf at the Kailash Prakash Stadium.

“It’s good to have a hockey astro turf in the city, but our primary need is an athletics track,” said Kumar who believes that strongly-built youths from the Jat community in the area are best suited for athletics and wrestling.

“Kids in this community always have a strong build, height and above all the culture of a rich diet, including ghee, milk and curd that make them stronger for events like running, throwing and wrestling,” he said.

“If we have an international standard athletics stadium here in Meerut, we would see this city producing many medallists at the international level.”

He also said that this rural belt of western Uttar Pradesh has been a nursery of strongly-built individuals for Delhi Police and the defence forces.

“You can see thousands of athletes running on the roads of Meerut and its adjoining districts early in the morning as they rely on athletics to get jobs in the Delhi Police and the armed forces,” he said.

Enthusiasm for athletics in Meerut is such that even in the recent district championships, over 1000 athletes appeared in different disciplines in both the male and female categories.

“We have 30-odd clubs and a few clubs of athletics in the city being run by former international athletes. They have been producing good results at the national level, that too without having even basic infrastructure.’We couldn’t get hurdles during the district meet as the person responsible for this at the Meerut stadium had gone on a personal tour and refused the facilities to us,” he said, adding, “Somehow we borrowed the equipment to conduct the meet.”

“Other cities like Sonipat, Delhi and Panchkula have an adequate number of international standard athletics tracks. Covering a long distance on a routine basis for training isn’t possible for all the athletes of Meerut,” h e said.

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    Sharad Deep is a versatile sports journalist, who loves writing on cricket and Olympic sport. He has played cricket at the university level and has been writing for Hindustan Times since 1997.

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