In a major infrastructural lapse, three national records and one potential Olympic qualification timing failed to register, after power failure at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi on Sunday. The athletes in question are Srabani Nanda (Women’s 100m), Muhammad Anas (400m) and Amiya Kumar Mallick (Men’s 100m).
Essentially acting as a Rio Olympic qualifier for most Indian athletes, the power began to fluctuate in the wee hours of the morning. Despite the warning, organisers went ahead with the Indian Grand Prix, only to experience a longer gap later in the day.
Despite having a power back-up the organisers decided against using it, expecting a return of electricity ‘very soon’. However, the power never returned with the Men’s and Women’s 3000m events conducted in complete darkness.
Track officials recorded the time manually through their stop-watches, which as per IAAF regulations is not allowed. For an athlete to qualify for the Olympics, their timings must be recorded electronically.
Mallick registered a timing of 10.09 in the Men’s 100m, convincingly breaking the previous record of 10.30 seconds. This particular timing would see him make Olympic cut of 10.16 seconds. However, due to the absence of an electronic timing board and photo finishes, this will be deemed inconsequential.
Nanda put in a time of 11.23 seconds, breaking the national record of 11.38 seconds in the Women’s 100m. Anas, also broke the 400m national record of 45.48 by registering a time of 45.41 seconds, a mere 0.1 seconds behind Olympic qualification.
Due to infrastructural ignorance, one Olympic spot and two potential slots have been lost. Now, the runners have the Federation Cup in two days time to prove themselves, despite giving their best here.
A runner from the event said, “I had broken my personal best as well, I can only feel for Mallick, who ran his heart out today. Maybe the electronic timing would have reflected something else. However, this is not acceptable at all, what if he actually got the Olympic qualification timing. I think he would one of the first from India in the 100m category.”
He added, “There are people who are working day and night to make it into the Olympics and if something as basic as electricity cannot be organised, I have absolutely nothing to say.”
We had asked SAI about the power back-up, they said no: AFI official
The event was being conducted by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and Sports Authority of India (SAI). A senior AFI official said, “We had personally requested the SAI guys, who told me that there is no backup whatsoever in the stadium. We asked them at least twice or thrice, and they remained on their stance. Now, after the ordeal is over, they come up with this.”
However, SAI had a very different opinion about the matter. A stadium official said, “What do you mean? We are one of the biggest stadiums in the country, you really think the AFI didn’t know we have backup? Every sporting organisation in Delhi knows that we have power backup. They are just trying to spread lies.”
This is not the very first time something like this has happened at JLN stadium. During the Indian Super League (ISL), a match was delayed as two floodlights were not working properly.
Another case of buck-passing has majorly affected the athletes, who now have just one more shot at qualifying for the Olympics at the same venue. Let’s hope another infrastructural lapse doesn’t occur.Published 25 Apr 2016, 10:52 IST