The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium has been one of the finest sporting landmarks in Chennai for nearly three decades. From hosting the South Asian Games in 1994 to organising international football competitions for men and women to conducting and numerous All-India athletics meets including as late as June 2022, the Stadium has been witness to some epoch-making feats by Indian and foreign sportspersons.
Its athletics track was last re-laid for the 2013 Asian championships (which ultimately wasn’t held here due to issues surrounding the LTTE issue in Sri Lanka). It is now in dire need of further maintenance and repair if not a new track.
A visit to the Stadium recently showed how much the first of the 8-lane track has deteriorated. At some places, there are granules and at other places it looks ‘melted’.
And at the start of the 100m, there are footmarks due to constant use of starting blocks.
Senior coaches, M. Riaz, Victor Jebasingh and G. Gunasekar praised the track as one of the best, but insisted if a new track is re-laid it would be a crowning glory.
Riaz said: “The track has been laid at the time of SAG. It is still good. At some of the places it has melted due to heat. Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu is relaying track at Coimbatore and other places. We hope and wish they will put a new track here, too.”
Victor Jebasingh said the first lane appears in bad condition because more runners keep using it during practice and warm-up. “The 5000m and 10000m runners use the first lane more for training,” he said.
G. Gunasekar, athletics coach, rued the fact there is no place for throwers. “There is a small place for throwers at the Nehru B ground, which is not enough. Some of Tamil Nadu’s best throwers train at Madras Christian College (Tambaram) and at a place in Chromepet. It will be good if throwers get a proper place inside the Nehru Stadium Complex,” he said.
C. Latha, Secretary of Tamil Nadu Athletic Association, minced no words. “I think this is the right time to relay the track because Tamil Nadu is going to host the Khelo India Games. Highlighting the importance of the track at the Nehru Stadium, Latha said several domestic meets were held here as the final selection trials for the Asian Games and Olympics. “We are looking forward to relaying of the track so that several high-level competitions can be held.”
J. Meghanatha Reddy, Member Secretary of SDAT, refused to bite the bullet. “SDAT will assess the track with relevant experts before taking a decision. But we are putting up new LEDs and civil renovation work will start soon,” he told Sportstar.
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