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Indian race walkers ‘walkout’ on Russian expert, turns spotlight on foreign trainers

Four of India’s top race walkers have left the training camp for the Commonwealth Games being held under the foreign expert in Bangalore, instead moving to Patiala to train under their personal coach.

other sports Updated: Jan 12, 2018 18:17 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
2018 Commonwealth Games,Commonwealth Games,Gold Coast
KT Irfan, Khushbir Kaur, Gurmeet Singh and Manish Kumar Rawat are still training under Russian expert, Alexander Artsybashev(Hindustan Times)

India’s top race walkers preparing for international meets have literally ‘walked out’ on Russian expert, Alexander Artsybashev. Training in Bangalore for the Commonwealth Games, scheduled in Gold Coast, Australia in April, they have now shifted to Patiala.

Chief national coach Bahadur Singh, a former Asian Games shot put winner, said the athletes were unhappy with the training methods of Artsybashev and it was decided to shift the national camp to the National Institute of Sports, Patiala. “We hope a conducive atmosphere helps them give off their best,” he said.

There were a series of disagreements with the Russian coach and four athletics from Services complained to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), its president, Adille Sumariwalla, said. The issue was discussed and AFI decided to shift the four walkers to Patiala to train under Services coach Surender Kumar.

However, the rest of the bunch will continue to train under Artsybashev. Among them are Asian Games women’s 20km silver medallist Khushbir Kaur and Olympians KT Irfan, Gurmeet Singh and Manish Kumar Rawat -- 13th in 20km walk at the Rio Olympics -- are also training in Bangalore.

Sandeep Kumar, the 50km walk national record holder, was among those to complain against the Russian coach. Chandan Singh, Jitender Singh and Devender Kumar, all internationals, are the others.

‘NO ATTENTION’

These athletes have alleged that the coach ignored them and their training has suffered. “If we continue to stay in the camp at Bangalore, it will do us more harm than good. Since competition is around the corner, we requested the federation to support us,” said Sandeep Kumar.

With the season’s first International race walk event to be held in New Delhi on February 18 – it’s a qualifying event for CWG – a change in the training method could prove detrimental. However, Sandeep Kumar said they are used to Surender Kumar’s training methods.

“When we’re not attending the national camp, we train with him, hence adapting to a new system won’t be an issue.”

This is not the first time top athletes have been at loggerheads with Artsybashev. In the build-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, athletes at a camp in Poland being supervised by the coach had complained about the quality of food.

NO TAKERS

Last year, AFI too expressed displeasure over his functioning and didn’t renew his contract. However, Dave Smith, the Australian expert chosen as Artsybashev’s replacement, declined after initially agreeing to take up the post. AFI was left with no option but to continue with the Russian. Elite Indian athletes refusing to train under foreign expert isn’t anything new.

Recently, national women’s javelin record holder, Anu Rani, refused to train under German expert Uwe Hohn. The former world record holder was roped in after Australian expert Garry Calvert quit following differences with the federation and switched to China. Rani trains with her personal coach Kashinath Naik and has said she is comfortable with his training methods.

Men’s 400m national record holder, Mohammed Anas, has also refused to train under foreign expert, Galina P Bukharina, a US coach of Russian origin, and instead opted to continue under his personal coach.

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 18:16 IST