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Blame game for failure in athletics

Guwahati, June 16: Veteran athletes have come down hard on the Assam Athletics Association for the state’s failure to shine in sports over the past decade.

There was a time when Assam could boast of Asian Games gold medallist Bhogeswar Barua and former international Tayabun Nisha. But over the last decade, almost no athlete from the state has been able to make it big at the senior level.

“I completely blame it on the association. The situation seems to have worsened under the present regime. During our days, there was no proper infrastructure or coaching. Despite all odds, we went on to bring laurels while, if you see today, there is no dearth of facilities; the president of every sport governing body is, usually, an influential person. But the people under him, too, need to ensure that things are being implemented,” said Barua.

He lashed out at the association saying, “I don’t think the association is doing enough to ensure the development of athletics in the state. I have never been asked for suggestion or supervision and so about many other experienced athletes of the state.”

One of the finest athletes during her days, Nisha, too, spoke on the same lines and lamented the lack of vision. “The current scenario is better but there is no implementation,” she said.

On the athletes failing to do well in the senior category, she said, “One needs rigorous practice to shine at the national and international level. Our players hardly have a weeklong camp before proceeding to a national championship. With only one state championship in a year, one cannot expect players to shine. The players lack dedication and devotion nowadays. After getting a job they lose focus and the hunger to make it big.” Nisha is also a vice-president of the Assam Athletics Association.

Secretary of the Assam Athletics Association Pradip Nunisa admitted having failed to produce senior players but highlighted some of the initiatives taken by the association.

“I do admit that we are not doing well at the senior level but we are performing quite well at the junior level compared with the other Northeast states. One cannot blame the association only. The role of parents is also very important and the athletes hardly have such support. I took the initiative to send sprinter Nivedita Barman for further coaching at PT Usha’s academy, but there was no response from her parents,” Nunisa said, citing an example.

“Everyone can blame one another, but it’s really difficult to do things. The association provided Nivedita Barman with Rs 1 lakh on being selected to represent the country at the Asian School Athletics Championship in Kuala Lumpur. We are taking initiatives to improve the situation and I believe the clubs at the district level should also take the initiative to organise competitions if sport needs to flourish,” Nunisa added.