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Long jumper Sreeshankar's coach sacked by AFI after Tokyo Olympics debacle

India's Sreeshankar at the Tokyo Olympics
India's Sreeshankar at the Tokyo Olympics
FEATURED WRITER

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has sacked long jumper M Sreeshankar's coach, his father S Murali, after a disappointing Tokyo Olympics performance.

Sreeshankar rewrote the national record with a leap of 8.26m in the Federation Cup in March and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in style. However, a fitness trial before the quadrennial Games saw the athlete flop and was almost withdrawn from the squad for the Tokyo Olympics.

However, in a timely intervention by his coach (with a written assurance that Sreeshankar will perform better at the Tokyo Olympics) saved him. It did not work out well as the athlete failed miserably recording a very poor and sub-par attempt.

In an introspection of the Tokyo Olympics performance at the two-day executive council meeting of the AFI, the federation came up with measures taken to better all athletes’ performance. AFI president Adille Sumariwalla, speaking to journalists, said:

"We are not happy with his (Sreeshankar’s) coaching program. The first action is already being taken, as we have changed his coach.”

New qualification trial before marquee events

The AFI’s planning committee has also decided that a tournament similar to a national championship or a final trial will be held before any Olympics and the World Championships. This tournament will be used to select teams competing in these events.

AFI's planning committee chairman Lalit Bhanot said there will be two events that will decide on the selection of teams and athletes participating in these events. He said:

"The qualification period for the Olympics and world championships is a very long one. So, there will now be a final trial, it will be a championship and that will be a final one for selecting the teams.”

This new format will negate any bitter experiences the federation has to undergo, like what had happened in Sreeshankar’s case.

Lalit Bhanot added that introducing a new tournament will also help athletes retain peak form before major events.

Speaking on a packed 2022 calendar, the administrator said a full-strength squad for the Asian Games will be sent, but a lot depends on squads for the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. He explained:

"Those who qualify will be sent to the world championship but we will send a full-strength team to the Asian Games. As far as Commonwealth Games are concerned, it will depend on the events we are expected to do well and where we don't stand a chance.”

Also read: AFI to appoint foreign experts in five disciplines to give fillip to junior development programme in India

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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