Sports

Finally, some cheer amid gloom for India at Asian athletics meet

Saba Nayakan Kolkata | Updated on July 07, 2013

Vikas Gowda with his gold at the 20th Asian Athletics Championships, in Pune last week.

India’s performance at the 20th Asian athletics championship at Pune has been nothing short of a disaster. Gone are the days when India’s golden girl, P.T. Usha, could alone promise the nation multiple medals from the continental meet.

Usha blames lack of proper training, right from the formative years of an athlete.

Athletics is a very demanding sport and one should be ready to take on the load to excel at the highest level, she says.

The days of glory when Usha, Shiny Abraham and others dominated the Asian scenario are over.

At least, this is the conclusion one can draw from the performances of the Indian athletes at one of the most important meets.

The battle of two Asian powerhouses, China and Japan, has been clearly won by the former with its array of new talent, as most of those who had qualified for the World championships at Moscow from August 10-18 preferred to train at home. This obviously gave the second string a chance to measure up its ability against the best in Asia.

Bahrain surprise

The surprise packet has to be Bahrain which has done wonderfully well. Africans running under the Bahrain flag will not exactly glorify the exploits of the West Asian nation.

Some of the other West Asian nations too have fielded African athletes in search of glory. How this will help those nations develop home-grown talent is the big question?

India’s Sudha Singh, the favourite to win the women’s 3,000-m steeplechase, was one to be at the receiving end as she was pushed to the runners-up position by Ruth Jebet of Bahrain. The 17-year-old took gold in record time.

Interestingly, the African connection to some of the West Asian nations is restricted only to track events. The field events, however, were dominated by others such as China and the Central Asian nations.

Discus thrower Vikas Gowda and the women's 4X400 team justified India hosting the championship by winning gold medals.

The Mysore-born Gowda attributes his success to year-round training in the US.

India won silver and bronze medals but they have neither helped in figuring among the top medal winners nor did it give any indication that Indian athletics is on the mend. sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

Published on July 07, 2013

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