Relay team gets Olympic medallist Galina as coach

Former Olympic sprint relay bronze medallist Galina Bukharina, a Russian who later migrated to the U.S., has been appointed as the new coach of the Indian 400m and relay teams.

Pawar Priyanka, Lukka Tintu, Kaur Mandeep and Poovamma Raju Machettira won a gold medal in the Women's 4x400m Relay final in Incheon in 2014.   -  Getty Images

 

Former Olympic sprint relay bronze medallist Galina Bukharina, a Russian who later migrated to the U.S., has been appointed as the new coach of the Indian 400m and relay teams.

The 72-year-old won the women’s 4x100m bronze with the Soviet Union team at the 1968 Mexico Olympics and later was the assistant coach of the USSR team where she handled sprinters and the relay teams. She was the coach of the Soviet Union women’s 4x400m relay team which broke the world record while winning the gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

Later, she moved to the U.S. and had a successful stint at the Texas State University, where she was the top coach for nearly 20 years till 2011.

The controversial 78-year-old Ukrainian Yuri Ogorodnik, the coach of the Indian women’s relay team during the 2011 doping scandal and who returned to train the relay runners for last year’s Rio Olympics, left soon after the Summer Games.

OLYMPIAN DAVE SMITH FOR WALKERS

The Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel approved Galina and Australian race walking coach Dave Smith’s appointments on Thursday and they will be with the Indian team till the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The appointments of two masseurs – Dmitry Kislev and Elmira Kisleva, both Russians – were also approved by the Sports Ministry.

Dave Smith, like Galina, is a two-time Olympian and he coached his son Dane Bird-Smith to the 20km bronze at the Rio Olympics.

There was talk doing the rounds recently that Russian coach Alexander Artsybashev, who had done an excellent job with the Indian race walkers helping them to medals at the Asian Games and Asian meets, had fallen out of favour with the Athletics Federation of India.

Two of the country’s leading race walkers, the last Asian Games women’s 20km silver medallist Khushbir Kaur and Manish Singh Rawat, did not find a place in the Indian team for the recent race walking Asians after they skipped the Nationals early this year and that added fuel to the fire.

ALEXANDER TO STAY TILL 2020

But Adille Sumariwalla, the Athletics Federation of India President, confirmed to Sportstar that Alexander Artsybashev would stay on till the 2020 Olympics and that he was very happy with the Russian’s performance.

“The Russian coach is still there and he is not going anywhere till 2020. But we are getting a second coach because one coach cannot take care of everyone,” said the AFI chief.

“With the amount of walkers that we have, and some of them are producing world-level performances, we cannot do with one coach.”