Splitsville: Javelin hopefuls divided over foreign coach

Published: 28th September 2016 06:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2016 06:25 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: Close on the heels of young Neeraj Chopra setting a world record in the U-20 World Championships in July, the Indian javelin squad has put at stake the future of the sport — by splitting the national camp into two. While one camp has been retained at NIS, Patiala, under coach Kashinath Naik, the foreign coach Garry Calvert has chosen to move to SAI, Bengaluru, along with five of his trusted athletes. He is one of the three foreign coaches whose contract was extended by the Sports Authority of India.

Though the exact reason for this relocation has not been revealed, Calvert said he wanted to avoid distractions. “I don’t want any distraction. Distraction could be anything. It could be hot weather or people making noise near training athletes. I came to Bengaluru to avoid such distractions. I find it a better place to be made as the central training base,” he told Express.

However, he denied that he has any personal issues with other coaches or athletes, saying that he is trying to improve the performances of javelin throwers, including Chopra, and nothing else matters to him.

“All I am bothered about is performance. If someone interferes with my job, I will speak out because I am a professional,” he said before adding that rest of the six athletes would join him in Bengaluru in the coming weeks. Calvert moved to Bengaluru more than two weeks ago.

On the other side, however, the six athletes are adamant that they won’t join the Australian coach and have rallied behind Naik, who has been responsible for discovering many talents. Sources in Patiala have confirmed that all six throwers, including women’s national champion Annu Rani and  former national record-holder Rajinder Singh, have written to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) about their dislike for Calvert’s training methods.

“We are not happy with his training routine. Earlier, when he joined the side, we held him in high regard but after spending time with him we felt that his technique is not going for us,” one of the javelin throwers explained to this newspaper. Naik, however, was unavailable for comment.

Some other athletes allege that the javelin throwers’ performance went downhill while they trained with him prior to the Rio Olympics. “Look at the case of Annu. She was hitting 58-plus metres continuously but after training with Calvert, she has come down to 55m. That was the scenario with almost all the throwers,” one of the athletes alleged.

Meanwhile, Calvert said he doesn’t want any complacency to creep into his work. “Indian javelin throwers are now up against big players. They are not competing with Nepal or Sri Lanka anymore. They are competing against the likes of USA. I achieved a good result with Neeraj in the Worlds but I don’t want any complacency to creep in. I want to carry the momentum forward,” he said.

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