National Games timing wrong: Khade`s coach

Updated: Feb 14, 2011, 18:02 PM IST

Ranchi: Karnataka swimming coach Nihar Ameen on Monday hit out at the organisers of the 34th National Games, saying top athletes were missing due to the wrong timing of the multi-sporting event following several postponements.

Ameen, who coaches Indian swimming sensation Virdhawal Khade of Maharashtra in his academy in Bangalore, said the organisers wanted to hold the National Games just for the sake of it.

"I don`t see any point of these National Games. The timing is not ideal for these Games. It`s too cold too train in Bangalore and I`m sure the situation is worse in North Indian states. Nobody will be in their peak with the lack of preparation," Ameen said.

Ameen has a genuine reason to be angry as some of the top
swimmers, including his state`s Rehan Poncha, who was adjudged
best athlete of the 33rd National Games in Guwahati in 2007,
were missing from the event.

"We all were short on preparation. Nobody really knew
whether this time the National Games were happening. We all
were hoping that it would be postponed again and unsure of the
participation. It was all decided suddenly," he said referring
to Poncha`s absence.

"Definitely we are missing Poncha badly. I don`t know the
reasons. Maybe he is taking rest after the Asian Games," he
said.

Karnataka was hit hard by Poncha`s absence on the opening
day of swimming as they managed only one gold, three silver
and one bronze as Khade, representing Maharashtra, clinched
two gold with two meet records.

In Poncha`s absence, the 24-member Karnataka swimming
contingent`s hopes rest on Arjun JP (breaststroke and sprint
freestyle), Gagan AP (distance freestyle), Rohit Havaldar
(backstroke and freestyle) and Ashwin Menon (backstroke and
freestyle).

Ameen said a proper calendar for athletes should be ready
at least four years in advance to bring the best out of them.
"Interest of the athletes should always be kept priority.
We need to have a calendar in place at least four years in
advance. How athletes are winning medals at world stage
despite this is extremely unbelievable. The system is
difficult to understand," said a miffed Ameen.

"The only motivation for them is good cash awards to
recover the huge expense they incur from training and exposure
trips," he said.

Asked why the women swimmers were below par as compared
to the men`s, Ameen said, "For many years women were stronger
than the men swimmers. But it`s a role reversal of sorts now.
I am not sure of the reason. There are bright swimmers in the
age group categories but many drop out, may be because of
education."

"This will be an important year for the swimmers with the
World Championships in Shanghai due in July where Khade and
Sandeep Sejwal will hope to earn berths for London 2012
Olympics. The year will also have World University Games and
Asian Age Group Championships in another two important meets
for the swimmers," he said.

PTI