New Delhi: In an unsavoury incident, Asian Games silver medallist Khushbir Kaur was on Sunday forced to pull out of the women's 20km race walk event of National Open Athletics Championships midway into the competition by her coach Alexander Artsybashev as he felt her ward could get injured at the season-ending meet.
Amritsar girl Khushbir, who was representing ONGC, wanted to take part in the early morning event against the wishes of Russian coach Artsybashev who, according to Athletics Federation of India sources, did not want her to take part on the ground that she could get injured.
She took part and was leading the race by a big distance before pulling out after covering around nine kilometers.
Another race walk coach, however, said that Khushbir pulled out midway as she was feeling pain on her legs.
Artsybashev was even seen shouting at Khushbir Kaur before the start of the event following an argument with national chief coach Bahadur Singh.
"You cannot treat an athlete like that," Bahadur was heard telling the Russian.
Another official said that since the National Open was an event competed by departments of the governments, the athletes also have a duty to take part.
"These departments are spending money for the athletes and so they also want them to represent in these national events. The athletes also would want to do something for their employers," the official said.
The 21-year-old Khushbir, who holds the national record of 1:31:40, was in the process of being made a permanent employee by the ONGC, which is also the sponsors of the National Open, and so she wanted to take part in the event.
ONGC Games and Sports Cordinator Bhupinder Singh told PTI that he will have to find out why Khushbir pulled out.
"We have come to know that she pulled out midway into the competition. We are going to ask her and her coach why she pulled out," Bhupinder said.
Bhupinder also confirmed that Khushbir will now be given a permanent job at ONGC after her silver-winning performance at the Incheon Asian Games.
"Yes, Khushbir will be given a permanent job at the ONGC. She was earlier under our scholarship but now she will be given a permanent job," he said.
Asked if her pulling out today from the National Open will have any bearing on the proposed offer of a full-time job, he said, "No, we will not link our offer of permanent job with today's incident."