The 51st edition of the A. L. Mudaliar Athletic Meet, organised by the Department of Physical Education, University of Madras, was held here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium from October 24-26. Over 1,200 athletes from 63 colleges took part in the intercollegiate event which also serves as a scouting ground for the University of Madras team selections.

Speaking to Sportstar , the organising secretary, Dr. V. Mahadevan, said there was no dearth in talent among the participants from the varsity. Mohan Kumar, the youngest member of the 4 x 400m relay at the 2016 Olympics and J. Surendar, who represented India at the South Asian Games in the Triple Jump category, hail from the University of Madras.

While such meets provide an opportunity for the athletes to showcase their talent, there are some issues that haven’t been addressed for long, which, as a result, hamper the progress of the student-athletes.

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One such case is the dilemma of choosing between sports and examinations if the two coincide. The university does not provide athletes with other special provisions apart from compensation in attendance. “We are able to manage most of the times and we give them attendance, but the exams cannot be rescheduled for a few students,” says Mahadevan.

Also the athletes have to train on their own with their respective coaches. The authorities hire a manager to monitor proceedings and ensure they are making good progress. Whether their coaches are qualified or not, is nobody’s concern.

The quality of equipment and facilities is also subpar. Surendar feels the lack of rehabilitation facilities caused prolonged injuries. “We would want the university to provide us with physiotherapists, ice baths and massages. As athletes, such things are extremely important for our bodies,” he says.

Successful sporting nations like the U.S. treat their student-athletes very differently. The universities in the U.S. aim towards a more holistic development of the student-athletes. They are required to balance academics and sports and development of mental ability and physical fitness along with learning valuable life skills is top priority.