Spala in Poland will be the venue for a 12-week training-cum-competition schedule for a 38-member Indian athletics contingent, including 15 women, from May 9 to August 4.
The team of 10 women and nine men from 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay, apart from four men and two women javelin throwers, leaves on Monday. The athletes will be accompanied by a seven-member support staff. A group of 13 race walkers (10 men and three women) will reach Spala from Rome.
Javelin coach Garry Calvert, who joined the National camp in February, was confident of the athletes excelling. “I have a group of some talented men and women javelin throwers and we will be looking at maximising the opportunity to train in Spala and also travel for competitions in Europe for qualification berths,” he said.
M. R. Poovamma, part of the women’s 4x400m relay team which won the gold in the 2014 Asian Games, felt, “Our training is going on strongly and I hope that in the next two months we will improve our world ranking and achieve qualification.”
According to Iiuri Ogorodnik, the foreign expert for the 400m National campers, “The training centre in Spala has world-class facilities and we are hopeful that the training and competition will help our athletes to qualify in the real events and individual events as well.”
The idea behind training at Spala is to essentially give the athletes a platform to participate in as many competitions in Europe as possible. The Athletics Federation of India is expecting a decent show from the javelin throwers and the 400m relay runners.
“The Spala Olympic Centre is in the top two training facilities in Europe and one of the best in the world. We are thankful to (Ambassador of Poland) Tomasz Lukaszuk for his support,” AFI Secretary General C. K. Valson said at a media interaction here on Saturday. The cost of the trip is being met by the Union Sports Ministry.
Arokya Rajiv, who won the 2014 Asian Games bronze medal in 400m and came close to qualifying for Rio in the recently-concluded Federation Cup National Championships, looked forward to the training camp. “We are expecting to participate in a few Olympics qualification competitions in Spala and I hope to live up to expectations in both the individual event and the men’s relay team.”
The AFI plans to send athletes who qualify directly to Rio. “They need to get used to the time difference adequately,” said an AFI official.
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