KOCHI: Australian race-walking coach refused to train Indians because Athletics Federation of India did not sever ties with Russian coach. David Smith agreed to coach Indian walkers and was planning to join the team, but after hearing about extension of Russian coach’s contract he said he wouldn’t want to be associated with the team anymore.
David, who inspired his son Dane Bird-Smith to win an Olympic medal, was planning to bring his son along with him to train here. It has been learnt, Russian coach Alexander Artsybashev, the current national coach’s contract was extended. David was of the opinion that working with a Russian — since many of their athletes and coaches are under doping suspicion — might affect his career.
Talking to Express from China, David said he had agreed to take up the job in India after being approached by the AFI chief Adille Sumariwalla. “Then, I was under the impression that I would be operating alone. But the Russian coach’s contract was renewed. I had told them that under no circumstance would I work with a Russian as he was unprofessional and there was a taint about Russian coaches that I should avoid.” he said.
David conveyed his apprehension to the AFI and the SAI and waited for several months before being told that he need not come if he harboured bad feelings about Artsybashev. As per David, he had received a model contract — the one needed to get a visa — and the final one was due to be signed on arrival. David spent around 650 Australian Dollars to complete the visa process.But he decided not to as he felt that working with Russians would limit his career options.
“When Adille contacted me, he wanted me to stay for four years and longer. What I have seen in Rio made me reach a conclusion on Russian coaches. Also, I found him (Alexander) unprofessional. I aired the concerns because my intentions were good. But it seems the SAI had an objection. I don’t want to put my credibility and my son’s, at stake. So I informed them about my move to China and the whole process took just eight days while I had to wait for three months to get a proper feedback from India. This lack of communication also gave me warnings of lack of professionalism in whom I was going to deal with,” he added.
Some athletes in the national camp too felt that they would’ve benefitted under Bird-Smith. When contacted, AFI secretary CK Valson confirmed that the contract has fallen through. Another AFI source said, “the deal was snapped because javelin coach Garry Calvert had introduced David to the federation.” David rubbished it saying he is considering working with the Indian Army.
Shot putter Inderjeet Singh will appear before the NADA disciplinary panel for a hearing on Thursday. As per sources, this would be his penultimate hearing. Inderjeet said he was expecting a favourable verdict and hoped to return to action soon.