AFI asks SAI to retain most foreign coaches

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has asked the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the sports ministry to retain the majority of the National team’s foreign coaches.

LALITA BABBAR

Lalita Babbar finished 10th in the 3000m steeplechase in the Rio Olympics. Her coach Nikolai Snesarev is likely to be retained.   -  PTI

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has asked the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the sports ministry to retain the majority of the National team’s foreign coaches. It has not sought an extension for Ukrainian sprint coach Dmitry Vinaykin and recovery expert Andrey Filiminov of Russia.

As expected, middle and long-distance coach Nikolai Snesarev has been given a thumbs-up by the AFI. Along with him, the AFI has appreciated the services of Australia’s Garry Calvert (javelin), Russia’s Alexander Artsybashev (walk), and Ukraine’s Yuri Ogorodnik (relay team), and sought an extension for them.

A top source told Sportstar that performance was the sole criterion. “Nikolai has produced results consistently, and Lalita Babbar, finishing 10th in the 3000m steeplechase in the Rio Olympics, was the high point,” he said.

“Moreover, next year we have the Asian championships (in Ranchi from July 1 to 4) and World championships (in London from Aug. 4 to 13) coming up, and we don’t have much time in our hands.”

Ogorodnik, the source said, has done well and was deserving of the retention. While the men’s 4x400m relay team was disqualified after having received the baton before the exchange zone, the women finished seventh in the heats. “They have achieved Olympic standards and the AFI expects the teams to improve their standards in the future,” he said.

“We are happy with Artsybashev as some of the walkers did well,” he said. And Calvert, who had coached world junior javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra, was an obvious choice for retention. As jumps coach Bedros Bedrosian of Romania has been with the team for only seven months, the source said, he escaped scrutiny.

The source at the AFI further said henceforth the contract of foreign coaches will be for one year.

On sprint coach Vinaykin, the AFI said though he did well at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, he has not been up to the mark since. “We have given him a long rope — he has been with us for seven years. Now, it’s time,” he said.

It’s up to the SAI and the sports ministry to take the final call.