'Corona wave ruined plans to train Indian athletes for Olympics'
New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) The second wave of Coronavirus in India has ruined plans to prepare top athletes for the Tokyo Olympic Games, says Adille Sumariwalla president of Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
However, Sumariwalla points out that the top athletes gave a good account of themselves during the Federation Cup Athletics Championships in March.
"It raised hopes of a good season ahead, but AFI's road map for the Tokyo Olympics got disrupted due to a surge in pandemic in India. Foreign exposure tours for top athletes didn't go as planned due to travel restrictions put in place by several European nations for Indians and it made things more challenging to send the athletes abroad for training," Sumariwalla said in the latest AFI newsletter.
Ten individual athletes, including javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh, have achieved quota places for the Tokyo Olympics. The national mixed 4x400m relay team, by virtue of being finalist at the 2019 Doha World Championships, has also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
Last week, the national relay team was unable to go to Poland, via the Netherlands, to compete in the World Relays and it was a big setback for AFI to prepare athletes for the Olympics.
World Relays competition was a qualification event for the Olympics. The AFI was hopeful of the women's 4x100m relay team earning a berth for the Olympics.
"In these challenging times when summer heat is soaring in Patiala and European countries having 15-day quarantine rules in place for the Indians, it is tough to find a right place to train. With Olympics around the corner undergoing quarantine for 15 days would completely spoil the show," Sumariwalla said.
Despite setbacks, Sumariwalla is hopeful of a solution. "The AFI is working to find the best place to train in Europe ahead of the Olympics," he said.
The Olympic Games are scheduled to be held in July-August.