The presence of Mumbai’s Aishwarya Mishra, who has not competed in any major meet conducted by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) in the last couple of years, among the bunch of 400m national campers who left for Turkey for training from New Delhi on Thursday has left many shocked.
Aishwarya’s name did not figure in the AFI’s list of 22 national campers for the women’s 400m and 400m hurdles which was announced on October 1. But surprisingly, despite missing all the major national meets, the Mumbai athlete has managed to find a place among the nine girls who took the flight to Turkey.
Aishwarya clocked an impressive 52.4s in the Mumbai University inter-collegiate athletics meet in Mumbai last month. And that lone hand-timed performance, in a meet where there was no dope testing, appears to have got her an invitation to join the national camp.
Her stunning progress in the last three years has also raised many eyebrows. Records available show that she had been running the 400m in the one-minute range till about 2016 but brought it down to 57.1 and later to 56.8s in Mumbai meets last year before producing the awesome recent time.
Aishwarya, according to AFI sources, joined the national camp which has Russia-born American Galina Bukharina as the head coach on November 1 and surprisingly got the Turkey berth while many prominent runners were ignored.
The omission of Soniya Baishya, a member of the relay team at the recent Asian Games, and the inclusion of Haryana’s Kavita, who clocked 54.37s while finishing fifth in the recent Open Nationals, have also surprised many in the camp.
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“Soniya is fully fit while Kavita appeared to panic when an anti-doping team landed at the national camp a few days ago. She left the camp a day later saying somebody was ill at home and returned after a few days,” said a camp source.
Despite repeated attempts, the AFI secretary C.K. Valson could not be contacted for his comments.
Meanwhile, UP quartermiler Chhavi Sharawat was asked to leave the national camp after syringes were found in her room in violation of the AFI’s no-needle policy.
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