Long way to go for Indian athletics: Sports journos’ meet

22 Mar,2012

By A Correspondent


The problems faced by Indian athletics in its attempt to catch up with the rest of the world echoed at the seminar on athletics held to mark the start of the 36th National Convention of the Sports Journalists Federation of India (SJFI) in Guwahati on Tuesday.


While the elite panel comprising former internationals Bhogeswar Barua, Adille Sumariwalla, Sunil Abraham and Tayabun Nesa and eminent coach, Kuntal Roy, spoke generally on a variety of factors, the common refrain amongst them all was the need of a long-term plan, support from within the educational system and the adoption of a supportive sports medicine system for the growth of the sport in the country.


Setting the ball rolling, Bhogeswar Barua, 800m gold medalist at the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok, was critical of the powers-that-be who controlled the affairs of the Athletics Federation of India, for the failure of Indian athletics to really take off at the world stage. “They have really no genuine concern for the sport. Or for all the gains we have made through the years, Indian athletics could have really made a real impact at the world level by now. Power and pelf are what they are interested at, while the real concern should have been that of the welfare of the athletes.”


Barua also said that there was no point in blaming Indian cricket for the ills plaguing Olympic sports disciplines in the country. “There is enough space to co-exist for all sports disciplines along with cricket. But then, the attempt should be to have a long-term plan which should be backed with some vision.”


Adille Sumariwalla, former National sprint champion, emphasised the need for society to change its approach towards athletics. “The crowds are simply not there at any meet held in this country despite the fact the action provides much more thrill than any other sport. Where else, can one witness competitions in more than one event being held simultaneously other than in athletics.”


Sunil Abraham, also a constituent sprinter of his times, pointed out that things were bound to improve only if the middle class took to the sport in large numbers. “They are our main stay and I see an attitudinal problem as they choose to shun the sport and its excitement without any valid reason. The blame for this could be the lack of commitment of the present generation of athletes despite the facilities being made available to them.”


In her intervention, Tayabun Nesa spoke generally on how the sport had got totally removed from the educational system through the years and stressed on the need for the adoption of a sound system to take advantage of modern sports medicine. “The Government should look seriously into both these aspects if Indian athletics has to go places.”

Later in the day, the convention was officially inaugurated by 94-year-old Pulin Das, Assam’s first sports journalist, while the daily SJFI newsletter, Guwahati Rocks, was released by Bhogeswar Barua, by handing over the first copy to former National table tennis champion, Monalisa Barua-Mehta.


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