Aspiring pole vaulters left with soreness and injuries after competing at Uttar Pradesh Athletics Championships

The state of the facilities is extremely poor in Uttar Pradesh, which is where the pole vaulters had to perform
The state of the facilities is extremely poor in Uttar Pradesh, which is where the pole vaulters had to perform
Navneet Singh

The Indian contingent won seven Olympic medals, including one gold in the men’s javelin throw courtesy of Neeraj Chopra at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The ground realities, however, are very different. Young aspiring athletes aiming to make an impact at the upcoming national track and field competitions had an awful experience during the pole vault event of the Uttar Pradesh Athletics Championships held in Allahabad on Tuesday.

Almost all the athletes who competed in the pole vault event have sore muscles.

The reason behind the horrible experience of the pole vaulters

The pole vault competition for both the under-23 and the senior group was conducted on a worn-out landing mat. Since the landing pit was in a shabby condition it didn’t act as a shock absorber and resulted in painful experiences for young athletes.

“My back is still stiff as the landing pit was in a bad condition. It might take a week to get rid of the soreness in the muscles,” said one of the medal winners in the U23 group

While the athletes have painful shoulders and stiff back due to lack of good facilities, the blame has gone around on the other side. Officials from the Uttar Pradesh sports department blamed the organizers, the Uttar Pradesh State Athletics Association, for conducting competition on the worn out landing pit.

Allahabad’s regional sports officer, Anil Kumar, was annoyed at enquiring about the state of facilities at the local stadium.

“If the facilities weren’t good the state athletics unit shouldn’t have organized the competition in the first place,” said the regional sports officer.

PK Srivastava, secretary general of the Uttar Pradesh Athletics Association wasn't available for comment on the issue.

Anil Kumar said when the government approves funds the landing mat would be changed.

“The landing pit for pole vault is old, but there are no funds to purchase a new one. When the government will grant funds we will replace the old one."

The Uttar Pradesh government, during a felicitation ceremony conducted on August 19, gave cash awards to all the medal winners of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Cash incentives were also given to support staff of the men’s and women’s hockey teams. However, facilities at the grassroots level continue to be neglected.

Instead of landing on a mat during the pole vault competition on Tuesday, one of the budding athletes landed twice on the ground. He hurt his back in the process.

“I wanted to improve my performance during the pole vault competition but after getting hurt I decided not to increase the height of the bar as it could be more damaging,” said one of the competitors.

A senior official at the state sports department said, he wasn’t aware of the lack of facilities in Allahabad.

“We haven’t got any demand from the regional sports officer. But we will look into the issue and replace the old landing pit as early as possible,” said the senior official of the state sports department.

Also Read: Mirzapur pole vaulter Shekhar Kumar Pandey is focused ahead of his inaugural National U23 meet

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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