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This is how the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has threatened elite Indian athletes who want to take part in the 2010 Sunfeast World 10K run in Bangalore on May 23rd.
AFI Secretary-General Lalit Bhanot has written to the Karnataka Athletics Association (KAA) and the State Government stating: “the Sunfeast World 10K is not an AFI recognised event. Any athlete participating in it could get injured and miss out on a heavily scheduled season, what with the Commonwealth and Asian Games slated during the year.”
India’s running legend, Sunita Godara, former Asian Marathon Champion, talked to us and gave her views on this entire controversy. Sunita is managing the elite Indian runners at the Sunfeast World 10K.
- Worldwide it is seen that for the high performance the athletes go through a Pre competition season. In this they go for 10km & 21km Road races competitions to improve their timings.
- As per Scientific Training schedule prior to the major tournament ie CWG, Asian Games, ATF & Olympics the long distance Runners attempt fast road competitions as “time trail”. The ideal gap between such competition and road races may be 15-20 days before for 10km, one month for 21km and 3 months for 42km Runners.
- Indian long distance Runners are fortunate that now for last 5 years they are getting world class competition at home ie Bangalore World 10km in May, Delhi half Marathon in Oct end, Pune Int’l in Dec and Mumbai Marathon in January.
- It is National Federation’s duty to give exposure to the Indian National Top Runners in the World Class Competitions. If AFI executives have no intentions to do so, at least they should encourage the long distance Runners to take advantage of these big Marathons and Road Races which are organized by other sport loving organization.
- If AFI wants to control the Long distance Runners and deprive them of high Prize Money Races organized by other bodies, then they should pay the athletes and compensate the damages in terms of monies when they force their dictates upon to the Indian top athletes.
- AFI can also make a team of top athletes and pay them huge amount like Cricket & Hockey and dictate their terms on them. It costs a huge sum to be at the National top level in the Long Distance Running. The athletes are not bonded slaves of AFI.
- I am in the long distance running at the international scene for almost 30 years. This is my observation that IAF executive’s mindset has not changed in these years in spite of the developments in running culture in India. They still want athletes to be their “bonded laborers” without helping them with monies.
- This is great injustice to the Runners. This is Blackmail, it is unfair to give them threats of banning them and not allowing them opportunity and exposure which is coming at “No Cost to AFI & Govt.” to improve further by rubbing shoulders with the World Class Runners in the Marathons & Road Races held in India.
- It fits into the profile of a long distance runners to do road races. 5-10km Runners benefit from these races greatly. Marathoners take them as speed tests. It is totally unscientific for AFI to ban athletes from participation in the name of CWG which is many months away. This also deprives the runners of the monies which AFI must compensate to them. IAAF must take strong action against this unfair behavior of AFI. With AIMS endorsement it is possible for IAAF to do so which I feel is the need of the hour to save the sportsman’s future and performance.
- The fact is that AFI has a negative mindset and always worked against the athlete’s interest. This example exemplifies this.
I also understand that one of the key underlying issue is the money involved. AFI wants a bigger slice from all the events which Procam conducts in India, including the Delhi Half Marathon and the Mumbai Marathon. AFI is just giving these excuses which are totally unjust and totally against the spirit of development of running in India. I guess this is just another episode as long as the Bhanot’s and Kalmadi’s of this world continue to be involved in the administration of sporting events in India.