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To keep athletes on track, distance coach bans smart phones

Coach Surendra Singh believes off-field issues are a major source of distraction, and has banned smart phones at the national camp in Patiala

other sports Updated: Jun 02, 2017 23:22 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Surendra Singh,World Championships,Federation Cup athletics
The athletes at the national camp in Patiala have smart phones, but only get to use them on weekends and that too for just one hour.(HT file photo - image only for representative purposes)

Almost all top cricketers and hockey players are active on social media.

But it is a luxury for a group of long distance runners here aiming for berth in the national squad for the upcoming World Championships at London this August.

They have smart phones, but only get to use them on weekends and that too for just one hour.

“During the week days it’s in the locker,” says distance coach Surendra Singh, who believes off-field issues are a major source of distraction in the camp.

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“Small distractions have consequences. After a tough training session, athletes should focus on recovery and not texting and re-texting messages on Facebook. For communication, athletes have an ordinary phone. That too is used in an emergency,’’ he told HT.

Among the aspiring athletes leading a Spartan lifestyle are G Lakshmanan and L Surya, who won gold in the men’s and women’s 5000m races, respectively, on the opening day of the Federation Cup athletics meet.

“I don’t have a Facebook account as I hardly get time to use my smart phone,’’ said L Surya.

Surendra’s trainees start their day at 5am and work for four hours. The two-hour workout in the evening starts at 4pm. Dinner is at 8 pm. It’s mandatory to go to bed at 9pm.

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The results have been forthcoming. Three marathon runners---T Gopi, Kheta Ram and Nitinder Singh Rawat have made the cut for the World meet in London. The runners also gave a good account of themselves in the Rio Games.

The national coach also wants his trainees to stay off food supplements. ‘’In my view, the more natural food athletes consume, the better it is,’’ he said.

During his competitive days, Surendra Singh didn’t take supplements. Yet, in 2008, he managed to break the long-standing national record of 28: 48.72 by clocking 28 minutes 02.89 secs. The previous record was held by Hari Chand during the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

According to Surendra, preference is given to boiled food and fruits. “The athletes have changed their eating habits and they are enjoying it,’’ he said.

First Published: Jun 01, 2017 20:16 IST