India’s elite athletes preparing for a highly competitive 2022 season at Patiala’s National Institute of Sports (NIS) are training with faulty equipment and running the risk of injuries.
There are two major multi-discipline competitions in 2022 — Birmingham Commonwealth Games (July 28 to August 8) and the Asian Games in China (September 10 to 25).
The strength and conditioning hall at the NIS, used by track and field athletes, has faulty machines. Even the gymnasium adjoining the main track has sub-standard equipment, a top athlete attending a national camp told Sportskeeda.
"The machines and barbells at the strength and conditioning hall are sub-standard. Working on faulty machines can lead to imbalance of muscles. Biomechanically the equipment is not good and athletes run the risk of injuries," the athlete explained.
The NIS Campus comes under the jurisdiction of the Sports Authority of India (SAI). SAI has said the process of upgrading the strength and conditioning departments across disciplines by creating more space and procuring state-of-the-art equipment is in the pipeline.
According to a national coach, athletes have complained in the past, but those were ignored. However, SAI has shown interest in upgrading the equipment this time around.
Besides track and field, Patiala is the main hub for elite boxers and weightlifters.
SAI Campus in Bengaluru is the main training center for hockey. Distance runners and race walking camps are also conducted in Bengaluru.
“The athletes preparing for major competitions in 2022 have raised the issue again of faulty equipment. This time, SAI has shown a keenness to address the issue,” said the national coach.
The weightlifting hall has new strength and conditioning equipment that is mainly used by national campers and weightlifters of the National Center of Excellence (NCOE).
“The fitness center is being renovated so that new equipment can be installed in place of old and obsolete machines. Besides, some strength and conditioning equipment has been shifted to the boxing hall,” a SAI statement said. “Athletics Federation of India (AFI) will procure some equipment to install at the athletics hall. The grant is provided under the annual calendar for training and competition by the sports ministry,” the statement added.
To upgrade the strength and conditioning hall, SAI has sanctioned a sum of ₹ 18. 54 crore.
“Work order has been issued and it will be completed within 18 months. In the meantime, the strength and conditioning facilities will be in the old gymnasium hall,” the statement further said.
SAI has also prepared a list of equipment to be procured with recommendations from athletes, coaches and strength and conditioning experts for boxing and athletics.
“The estimated cost is ₹ 3.2 crore, while the renovation work will cost ₹ 98 lakh. It will be ready by June 22,” the statement said.
A seasoned athlete said: "NIS is the premier sports institute in India. SAI should provide the world's best facilities for practice."