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Handballers, turf not yet ready

Jamshedpur, Feb. 7: No terraflex yet, only good old terra firma under a blue sky.

Handballers eyeing medals at 34th National Games will have to continue practising outdoors in Jamshedpur for some more days as terraflex is not yet laid on the Mega Sports Complex indoor stadium in Ranchi.

The indoor stadium is likely to be made available to men and women handballers from February 18, leaving them just a couple of days to get accustomed to the venue. Till then, they have to stay content with sweating it out at the JRD Tata Sports Complex. Handball events will be held in Ranchi from February 21 to 25.

“The terraflex consignment has landed in Calcutta and is expected to reach Ranchi today. Laying it on the wooden floor of the indoor stadium will take time. We will start practising from February 18,” Jharkhand Handball Association (JHA) secretary Khurshid Akhtar Khan said.

The JHA, which has already submitted a 32-member (men and women) crack outfit to the Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) may have to lose out on the medal front, thanks to incomplete facilities in Ranchi. “We need to put our handballers in the indoor stadium for practice and get accustomed to playing indoors,” said Khan, conceding their medal prospects would be hit.

A large stage, which had been used for the senior national wrestling meet, also needs to be removed from the indoor stadium. “I don’t know when authorities will remove the stage. It is another problem,” the JHA secretary said.

Handballers, some of whom are Jharkhand-born but employed outside, were disappointed. “The event is in Ranchi but we are undergoing training here. The camp should be shifted to Ranchi without further ado,” said one.

The Jharkhand men’s outfit, which won the senior nationals held in Jamshedpur six years ago, has a good chance of a medal at the Games.

“We have a strong men’s outfit, but facilities need to be as good. We have been forced to train our team outdoors,” Khan said.

The team will go to Ranchi for the opening ceremony on February 12 and return the next day. “We can’t hamper our training,” said Khan. “We have suffered enough.”

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