AFI president Sumariwalla mum on coach Nikolai’s letter

Kolkata, Sep 18 (IANS) Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adille Sumariwalla on Friday said he has received a letter from national middle and long distance coach Belarusian Nikolai Snesarev but refused to reveal whether he has resigned. He added that he has complained about the poor athletics infrastructure in the country.

According to reports Nikolai had wished to terminate his contract citing poor infrastructure and facilities in the country.

“I have received a letter, I am going to meet him. We have a meeting with the director general of Sports Authority of India (SAI) to be held in Delhi on September 20. We will discuss the issue there and see what is what.”

“Infrastructure issue yes (mentioning about the issues in the letter). We don’t have a high altitude training centre. He has been using the army facilities for a while but it is not of the standard that he wants. He has not told me about what facilities, he has only said he is not happy with the facilities here,” Sumariwalla told reporters present at the 55th National Open Athletics Championships.

“But media isn’t the right place to discuss this. Otherwise what happened to the hockey coach will happen where everyone gave their take and we will have to lose a good coach.”

The former athlete who was recently elected as a council member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said now that he is in the world body he would try and rope in top foreign coaches to India so that local coaches can be trained.

“We are keen on bringing foreign coaches because we need better quality Indian coaches, I want them to train our local coaches here. IAAF has a lot of technical data, a lot of research to which now I can have access to. Secondly I want to have level 1, level 2, level 3 coaching programme, so that over a period of time we do not need foreign coaches.”

Sumariwalla also refused to comment on what his expectations were from the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“There’s still a year left for the Olympics, ideally I can comment on it, three-or-four months before the games.”

The president also said that he wasn’t a Target Olympic Podium (TOP) fan, adding that the scheme was “neither here, nor there.”

“I’m not really overwhelmed with TOPS. It’s neither here nor there. I’m very happy with SAI. TOPs is trying to make it into a fancy name and very commercial. I’m not a great fan of TOPs,” said the Arjuna awardee.

Asked if there was a need to plan a league in order to popularise athletics in the country, Sumariwalla said: “We have looked at a few people wanting to do a league. What they want to do doesn’t fit my training programme. The window is narrow. We already have commitments. We are working on it.”

“I’m not going to have a league where my athletes will suffer. Their world championships, Olympics shouldn’t suffer. They want to have every third day and finish within two weeks. There are lot of technical and practical problems.”

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