ANJU GEORGE was not happy with the facilities in Bangalore. Athletes of her calibre need better facilities to train at home.-

The decision to hold preparatory camps abroad has to do more with other factors than just the weather

Getting acclimatised weeks or months before an event is a known strategy. Doing that a year before the actual competition, however, cannot be called far-sightedness. A 51-member Indian team, including 39 athletes went through such a stint in Doha, Qatar, recently, a full year ahead of the Asian Games scheduled at the end of this year. The ostensible reason was to "get a feel of the place" in preparation for the Asiad.

The December weather in Doha (average of 24 degrees Celsius high and 15 degrees Celsius low) would have been close to that in Hyderabad (28 and 15) or Bangalore (26 and 16) if the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) felt that Patiala or Delhi would have been too cold for comfort. After its short stint in Doha the team proceeded to Potchefstroom (South Africa) in their build-up towards the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March. Again, the average temperatures in the South African city, about 117km away from Johannesburg, being 29 degrees and 15 degrees, on the high and low respectively, it couldn't have been the weather that clinched the trip. It could well be that such places have good accommodation, good food and good recreational and multi-gym facilities apart from the synthetic and grass tracks.

It defies logic that we are ready to spend crores of rupees in just bidding for multi-discipline games but cannot set up the most modern multi-gyms at our main training centres in Patiala and Bangalore. After much criticism when a multi-gym was finally dispatched to Bangalore, Anju George and Bobby George found it practically useless since it happened to be substandard. The Union Sports Ministry would have spent Rs. 1.20 crore by the time the Indian athletics team would have wound up its Doha and Potchefstroom sojourn that was basically a preparatory phase. Can't we get the same facilities and food in Hyderabad?

"The ministry will never sanction a daily allowance of 60 dollars or equivalent if you train at home," said a coach. Perhaps there lies the truth.

— K. P. Mohan/Delhi