Road to 2020 Tokyo Olympics gets bumpy for India’s top athletes
The eight-lane track of the iconic Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where 2020 Tokyo Olympic hopefuls are training in a high performance athletics academy, is giving in.
The track, especially the inner lanes, has become uneven which can lead to career-threatening injuries to athletes.
The track was expected to serve for seven years after it was relaid in 2010 ahead of the Commonwealth Games (CWG). However, lack of maintenance has spoiled it even before it could last the duration.
The athletics academy is run by Sports Authority of India (SAI) in coordination with Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
Even before the track was officially inaugurated for the CWG on October 3 in 2010, it was damaged near the 300m mark. It was hurriedly repaired for the mega event. But due to water seepage, a certain section of the track on the home straight and back straight got damaged and became uneven.
The track has been repaired on a regular basis but it has been of no avail as seepage continues to affect it.
“We had raised the issue and it was repaired. The track has to be flat and smooth for good performance. Otherwise, there’s no point training,” said former international sprinter and coach Sandeep Sarkaria.
SAI director (infrastructure) Sanjeev Baranwal said, “That issue has been sorted but the damage has been done.” The stadium is also playing host to Fifa Under-17 World Cup matches starting from October 6 and Baranwal says there is plan to give it a facelift.
The venue has barely been used for international competitions since the Commonwealth Games. Only departmental meets and events sanctioned by AFI have been held.
There is no possibility of holding an international meet in near future as the track fails on two counts - it is uneven and doesn’t have a standard thickness of 13mm, according to AFI secretary CK Valson, also an international technical official.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was renovated for the 2010 Commonwealth Games at a whopping cost of Rs. 900 crore.