Timeless wisdom of athletics coach Bahadur Singh

National Institute of Sports chief coach Bahadur Singh discusses the importance of technique and the preparations for the upcoming Indian Grand Prix.

Discus thrower Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (Centre) discusses a point with chief coach Bahadur Singh (Right) during a training session with coach Yuri Minakov (Left) at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala on Thursday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

As the afternoon sun tries to provide the warmth against a cold breeze, the athletes are scattered, training at the vast sports complex of the National Institute of Sports.

With most of the prominent athletes training in different parts of the country, chief coach Bahadur Singh is happy to provide tips to  young shot putters to help them develop their technique.

“The javelin throwers have returned from South Africa. We will soon have Neeraj Chopra and others training here,” said Bahadur.

Finer points

Talking to the chief coach is an education, as he recalls so many instances and drives home the finer points in his inimitable fashion.

He points out that most of the athletes would start training at the NIS soon, as they would be preparing for the Indian Grand Prix which will be held in Patiala, Sangrur and Delhi on March 20, 25 and 29, to be followed by the Federation Cup in Patiala from April 10 to 13.

Watching Commonwealth Games bronze medallist discus thrower Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, Bahadur makes a few sharp observations, even as the athlete nods in acknowledgement, and goes through a training session with coach Yuri Minakov of Ukraine.

“The fundamentals remain the same. You have to get the left foot out quick so that the release is powerful,” he observed.

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Quite happy at Neeraj Chopra achieving the Olympic qualifying standard, Bahadur was categorical that it was important for the Asian Games gold medallist to stay patient for so long, to strengthen himself after surgery, and come back this strong in competition. “I had stopped when he wanted to compete earlier. Hundred per cent fitness was important. Now he is in good shape,” he said.

Lot more time left

Conceding that only seven athletes had qualified for the Olympics so far, including the mixed relay team, Bahadur emphasised that there was a lot more time left for athletes to qualify and reach their peak performance levels in time for the Olympics.

“Shiv Pal is also good in javelin. Tejinder Singh Toor had won Asian Games gold. He is capable. Both the men’s and women’s relay teams have a good chance. We don’t have top-class discus throwers in men, after Vikas Gowda,” he said.

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These are early days for Indian athletics. The focus is on training well and prepare purposefully for the season ahead. Apart from training abroad, different bunch of athletes have also been training in Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram.

 Some like Tejinder and Navjeet, among others, are happy to train in Patiala, in the breathtaking environment and energising weather, listening to timeless wisdom.