Bedros Bedrosian: ‘Rakesh Babu episode had upset our group badly’

The long and triple jumpers were one group that did not rise to expectations, though Arpinder, who was lying third with 16.46m, after the penultimate round, was very unlucky to lose the bronze to Cameroon’s Marcel Mayack, who had a personal best 16.80m last jump.

Jinson Johnson after the men's 1500m heat during the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.   -  AP

There were a few desperate calls from Bedros Bedrosian, on Sunday, just as the curtains were coming down on the Commonwealth Games (CWG), in Gold Coast.

“The Games are over, but we don’t know when we are leaving, as our return tickets have not come yet and we don’t have any information about them. I think it’s because my jumpers performed badly,” said the anxious Romanian, the national coach for long and triple jumps.

Bedrosian revealed that triple jumper Arpinder Singh and long jumper Nayana James had been in awesome form, before the Games.

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“Arpinder was jumping around 17.50m in training, a couple of weeks ago, while Nayana James did 6.72m, just before the Federation Cup,” he said.

“I don’t know what happened, perhaps it’s all in the mind. However, the Rakesh Babu incident (the triple jumper was thrown out of the Games after a syringe was found in his bag and room -- the CWG has a no-needle policy) had upset our group very badly.”

The long and triple jumpers were one group that did not rise to expectations, though Arpinder, who was lying third with 16.46m, after the penultimate round, was very unlucky to lose the bronze to Cameroon’s Marcel Mayack, who had a personal best 16.80m last jump.

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Also, women long jumpers V. Neena (6.19m) and Nayana (6.14), surprisingly, were in poor form, finishing 10th and 12th, after decent qualifying rounds.

Still, Gold Coast could be India’s best Commonwealth Games, in athletics, outside India (the 2010 New Delhi CWG was the best ever), though medal-wise, it was a repeat of the 2014 edition, in Glasgow, with one gold, a silver and a bronze, through javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and women discus throwers Seema Punia and Navjeet Dhillon.

“Not only the Commonwealth Games, I would rate this as our best Games ever. Very rarely do our athletes come up with best performances at major Games. And this time, they did. Of course, Neeraj Chopra was outstanding and we had some wonderful performances from a few others too,” said Radhakrishnan Nair, the Deputy Chief National Coach.

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“Muhammed Anas broke his own national record, while narrowly missing the 400m bronze, while Jinson Johnson shattered Bahadur Prasad’s 23-year-old national record, in a 1500m field, which included World Championship gold and silver medallists (Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot). Both these performances were unexpected. And quartermiler Hima Das produced a personal best in every round!”

Heptathlete Purnima Hembram and 10,000m runner L. Suriya were among those to hit personal bests, while javelin thrower Vipin Kasana, who strangely did not attempt a single throw in the last CWG final, was fifth at Gold Coast.

However, Radhakrishnan revealed that he had expected a lot more medals. “I had expected something like eight medals… apart from Arpinder, I thought high jumper Tejaswin Shankar, men’s 4x400m relay team, one of our women long jumpers and race walkers Khushbir Kaur and Soumya Baby would win medals. Still, it’s a very good show and a very good sign,” he said.