National javelin coach Garry Calvert resigns

No acknowledgement from SAI or AFI

(Representational Image) Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The National javelin coach Garry Calvert, who was instrumental in Neeraj Chopra’s historic triumph at the Under-20 World championships last year, has resigned.

The Australian had been seeking an extension to his contract up to the 2020 Olympic Games and revised terms, but there was no action or assurance from either the Sports Authority of India — his employer — or the Athletics Federation of India. An upset Calvert, whose contract is due to expire in February 2018, put in his papers on Monday. He has received no response to his letter of resignation from either the SAI or the AFI.

Calvert explained that he had been discussing his situation with the SAI and the AFI for seven months. “It’s just gone on too long,” he said. “I met Injeti Srinivas (SAI director general and sports secretary) in September in Delhi. I wanted to try and lock the contract for another four years, which is the Olympic cycle. It’s standard procedure in the world. We also discussed a change of terms. He said it wasn’t going to be a problem but it’s been a problem. I sent him and his staff about 20 communications. And I constantly got a ‘we’ll get back to you’ reply. The AFI have been equally uninterested. They just do not respond. It’s such a horrible work environment.”

Calvert felt his achievements with Neeraj, who became India’s first World champion in athletics at any level, had not been recognised. “It’s been me chasing them when it should be the other way around,” he said. “It’s quite insulting and upsetting. When we came back from the Worlds not one of them asked myself or Neeraj how we did it.”

He added: “It’s a security of tenure. You can plan ahead and the development of your athletes can continue. Now I don’t know if I’m going to be employed here in February. It’s unsettling.”

An elite javelin coach with a fine track record, Calvert stated that the decision had been a hard one to make. “It’s probably the first or second hardest decision I’ve made in my life. I don’t know how to describe Neeraj’s reaction. He was devastated. He obviously is trying to consider his future without me there. He clearly understands that we did this together.”

Calvert was unaware if he was still required to travel to the three Asian GP events in China and Taiwan at the end of April. “I asked if I still needed to go; they haven’t responded. All I was told was to send my passport. When no one communicates with you, it’s also a reflection of how much respect they have for you.”

Calvert, who said he had informed the AFI and SAI about having other suitors, has now been made an offer by another country and agreed to accept it. The six athletes who train under him at the SAI South Centre here are understandably worried.