VIJAYAWADA: In stark contrast to the entire country rejoicing over Dipa Karmakar not only qualifying for the Olympics but also standing fourth overcoming overwhelming odds, in Vijayawada the gymnastics coaching centre, the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadium is gathering dust. It has been kept locked up for the past six months with ongoing disputes between different associations. The training hall at the municipal stadium is getting renovated for housing Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) offices;
It was not always the case, for the city had its share of players, who had represented the State at National level.
“Gymnastics training was instituted in the city in 1982 and it went on till 1992. There were six players who represented the State at the national level from the city. For another 10 years, the situation was ok, but it started deteriorating in 2002 and it has yet to recover even after 14 years,” says A Nageswara Rao, a former gymnast, coach and now secretary of Krishna District Gymnastics Association.
When Rao and his batch mates took up the mantle of coaching in 1994, some 50 gymnasts were under his wing, despite lacking in government support.
“In 2002, the government appointed a SAAP coach for Vijayawada who, flouting rules, clung to the post for 15 long years before being finally transferred out a couple of months ago. There has been no evidence of a national level player from the city,” Rao says
The former gymnast says that he and others were ready to help, but were not allowed to do so. They formed the Krishna District Gymnastics Association and conducted a couple of invitation tournaments. But with their limited resources they could only do so much, he says.
However, such efforts to help the cause of gymnastics in Vijayawada proved futile, with politics stalling any progress. For some unknown reason municipal authorities, chose to rent out the three rooms at Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadium, meant for Gymnastics Coaching Centre to some Yoga Association.