Track trouble for Indian athletes at Bishkek

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) needs to ensure that its list of injured athletes does not get any longer.

Arokia Rajiv (in photo) has returned to India to treat the injury near his big toe.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Triple jumper Mohammed Salahuddin, who is enjoying the best phase of his career, had just one legal jump at the Tatyana Kolpakova international athletics meet in Kyrgyzstan on Sunday and there was a painful reason for that.

“The track was not in good condition, it was damaged and uneven. And I started getting heel pain from my first jump, so I did not continue after the fourth round,” Salahuddin, the country’s leading triple jumper this year, told Sportstar from Bishkek after his 16.53m second round effort that brought him the gold.

Salahuddin had jumped a personal best 16.64m earlier this month in another meet at Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“If the heel pain had not appeared, I would have done my best again. Some people had also warned us about the track even before we came here,” said the 25-year-old who hopes to qualify for this September’s World championships in Doha (entry standard 16.95m).

The 400m track at Bishkek was in a poor condition too and could be a reason for some of the mediocre performances there.

Read: Anas breaks 400m national record, qualifies for Doha World Championships

‘WORST CONDITION’

P.T. Usha, who was also in Bishkek with quartermiler Jisna Mathew, sent some photos of the track to this correspondent and it clearly appeared worn out and damaged in many places.

“Worst condition…we are lucky we came out without any injuries after competing on that track,” said Usha.

SERIES OF INJURIES

Some of India’s biggest athletes are down with injuries this season. Asian Games and Commonwealth Games javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra had an elbow injury and had surgery a few weeks ago while Hima Das, the under-20 World champion and Asian Games women’s 400m silver medallist, had a back injury that forced her to retire midway through the quartermile heats at the Asian championship in Doha in April. She has been running a series of 200m in meets in Poland and the Czech Republic the last few days.

AROKIA RAJIV BACK HOME

Meanwhile quartermiler Arokia Rajiv has returned to India to treat the injury near his big toe.

“I came back three days ago, I had taken MRI and it does not show anything. So, I don’t know what exactly is the problem,” said Rajiv. But a national coach revealed that it could need surgery.

That should be a big blow and could hurt the relay teams’ chances of qualifying for the World championships in September-October in Doha. And the mile relays are events where the Athletics Federation of India feels that the country has a chance of winning a medal at next year’s Tokyo Olympics. The Indian men’s 4x400m team will be running in the Balkan Relays at Erzurum (Turkey) on July 24 and 25.

POOVAMMA GETTING BETTER

Meanwhile Galina Bukharina, the coach for quartermilers and relays, said that M.R. Poovamma, who had suffered an achilles injury recently, is recovering well.

“It is getting better, she will compete in the Czech Republic on July 20,” said Bukharina from the Indian team’s training base in Spala, Poland, on Monday evening.

Quartermiler-hurdler A. Dharun is also recovering from a shin bone stress fracture and could be in action in the Czech meet.

With many in the injured list and with the Worlds a couple of months away, the national federation should ensure that its athletes are offered quality meets and the best of conditions, be it in India or abroad.