Sprinter Srabani Nanda was furious after the 200m final at the 61st National Inter-State Athletics Championships in Chennai on Tuesday, alleging poor organisation of the event and disrespect for her as an Olympian.
The event’s time was changed a day earlier from the scheduled 5.10pm to 6.40pm. “I made peace with this, but when I reached the call room, they said the start time is 6:10pm, which meant I lost all the time to warm up pre-race,” said the Odisha athlete, who finished fourth with a timing of 23.75s. Tamil Nadu’s Dhanalakshmi won the race (23.27s), Assam’s Hima Das came second (23.29s), and Maharashtra’s Aishwarya Kailash Mishra (23.72s) won the bronze medal.
Srabani was initially allotted lane 4, in accordance with her qualification timing. However, the lane was changed to 6 in the call room. “When they changed my sticker to lane 6, I tried to keep calm so that it would not affect me mentally. I started preparing to run in lane 6, since every lane requires a different strategy. But when I reached the blocks, they told me it was lane 4 again,” said Srabani, exhausted and angry. IAAF rules aren't in tandem with this, she said..
A technical official who did not wish to be named said, “It was nothing, just a sticker change. How does that matter? We put the right sticker later.”
Srabani said she would have dealt with all these difficulties, but also felt disrespected as her name was not announced as an Olympian. Incidentally, Hima Das’s name was announced as an Olympian despite the athlete not having featured in the Olympics.
“I am one of two or three female athletes to have qualified for the Olympics in an individual event. After all the hard work, when this happens minutes before the race, it affects you mentally,” said Srabani.
She failed to win a medal in what is seen as her strong event to go along with her bronze in the 100m and gold in the 4x100m relay.
The 31-year-old athlete, who trains in Jamaica, said that the event’s management was amateurish, like a school nationals meet she once participated in.
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