Jaisha's misery: AFI, Sports Ministry on excuse hunt
By Express News Service | Published: 23rd August 2016 05:02 AM |
KOCHI: Even before the exercise of finding answers to India’s well below-par performance at the Rio Olympics had begun, marathon runner O P Jaisha’s revelation that no Indian representative was around to provide water at sufficient intervals of the gruelling 42-kilometre shocked the psyche of sports lovers across the platform.
With the marathon beginning at 9 am in Rio de Janeiro, Jaisha was forced to complete the event in searing heat, crossing the line in 2 hours and 47.19 minutes. After the race, the 33-year old collapsed due to exhaustion caused by severe dehydration. That there was no Indian official at the finishing line to look after her made matters worse. For the next two-or three hours, she apparently had no idea where she was as the local organisers took her to the medical room. From sportspersons to politicians, the incident elicited sharp response. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan led the voices of angst and anger through his twitter handle.
Kerala State Sports Council vice-president Mercy Kuttan, herself an Olympian, spoke to Jaisha, recovering in Bengaluru. “Jaisha told me that she had run the final eight kilometres in a disoriented state. How can an athlete perform well if basic requirement like water is not provided? It should never have happened. The AFI should be held responsible for the unfortunate situation,” Mercy told Express.
Jaisha finished the race in the 89th place. In fact, it was a miracle that she finished the race.
While the AFI officials reportedly stated that they were not informed by the coach of the athlete about the requirement of water, the marathon rules at Rio specified that individual countries should take care of the specific requirements of their athletes.
“We are supposed to be given drinks by our technical officials, it’s the rule,” Jaisha said. “We cannot take water from any other team. I saw the Indian board. But there was nothing,” she said.
After the event, she was rushed to a hospital where her coach Nikolai Snesarev got into an altercation with one of the doctors and ended up being detained for half a day by the local police. “My coach was very angry and he ended up arguing with the doctors. The coach thought I was dead. He pushed the doctor to enter my room because he knew he would be held responsible if anything happened to me,” she said, trying to clear the air on Snesarev’s actions.
AFI secretary C K Valson said said it was the responsibility of the Rio organisers to provide water and energy drinks. “We could have provided water and energy drinks to our athletes but neither they nor their coaches informed us that they would need water and energy drinks separately,” said Valson, who was in Rio.
Sports Minsiter Vijay Goel said: “Every time any small incident happens, we take note. It was AFI’s job, it is the Federation which should have taken care of this.”