Sudha Singh targets CWG, Asian Games after IAAF World Championships snub
Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had excluded Sudha Singh’s name from India’s squad for the IAAF World Championships, despite the steeplechase athlete achieving qualification for the eventother sports Updated: Jul 28, 2017 19:11 IST
Denied a berth in the squad for the IAAF World Championships at London, India steeplechase athlete Sudha Singh is obviously disappointed, but she hasn’t lost faith in her abilities, and has vowed to win medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year.
Sudha, 31, had clocked 9:59.47 seconds at the Asian Championships (AAC) in Bhubaneswar early this month to clinch gold and book a place in the Indian squad for next month’s World Championships, but the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) excluded her name as well as three others for the London meet, reportedly citing ‘unusual’ reasons, such as her age, and non-participation in the Inter-State Championship at Guntur (a week after the AAC), which was curiously made mandatory for selection to the India squad.
“It is cheating and I am not going to accept this. I will show everyone, including selection committee chairman (Gurbachan Singh) Randhawa, my abilities… I have to win medals at the CWG and Asian Games,” an angry Sudha said on Friday.
“For the last many months, I haven’t been allowed to visit my family in Rae Bareilly, about 80km from here (Lucknow) as coach Nikolai Snesarev wants me to remain focused on training, and this is what I get in return for my sacrifices?” asked Sudha.
Currently busy with high-altitude training in Dharamsala, Sudha refuses to approach court like Kerala’s PU Chitra, who too has been denied a place in the squad for the London meet despite winning gold in 1500m at the Asian Championship. Gold-medallist in heptathlon Swapna Burman and 1500m champion Ajay Kumar Saroj too have been excluded.
AFI president Adille Sumariwala has issued a letter on Wednesday saying that Chitra and two others were excluded from the squad as their performance was ‘nowhere close’ to the qualification mark set by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).
“The call to exclude Chitra, Ajay and Sudha was taken unanimously by the selection committee comprising Olympians GS Randhawa, Paramjit Singh, Praveen Jolly and Uday Prabhu,” he added in his release.
“I questioned the selection of one G Lakshmanan, who was way behind the qualification mark, but is going to London. If all the gold medal winners had to go to London (as per AFI) then why am I being excluded?” asked Sudha, winner of silver medals in the 2009, 2011 and 2013 editions of the Asian Championships.
“It’s all a drama of some AFI officials, who want their people to go to the World Championships. How can someone say I am too old to compete when I am winning gold medals ahead of many young competitors? Before citing my age, the AFI should remove many oldies including Randhawa,” said Sudha, who aims to compete in her third Olympics at Tokyo in 2020.
“I even talked to Lalit Bhanot sir, and verbally communicated my anguish. Why do so many coaches go to the World Championships again and again? If medal-winning athletes are not being allowed to compete then why send all these coaches?” said Sudha, who has finished 21st at the 2012 London Olympics and 30th in Rio.