Galina no longer India's 400m coach, hunt on for replacement

The 2018 Asian and Commonwealth Games were the highlights of her coaching stint in India.
Galina Bukharina (Photo| Twitter)
Galina Bukharina (Photo| Twitter)

CHENNAI: After five years as the foreign coach for 400m (including 4x400m relay) athletes in the country, Galina Bukharina is back home (USA). Though she was under pressure after 4x400 relay teams floundered in recent times — from Commonwealth Games to World Championships, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) confirmed the development and said she also did not want to continue.

According to AFI, the severance was mutual. Though there were indications that she would be shown the door, the AFI claimed otherwise and said its primary concern was the coach's age. She turned 77 in February this year.

The women’s team that won gold in 4x400m at the 2018 Asian Games is in shambles. Most of the 400m women runners are injured while one is serving a suspension for a positive dope test. The men’4x400m had won silver.

Galina joined the India team in 2017 after the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar in July. The Russian coach, who lives in the USA, has already left the country and the AFI is looking for a replacement. Interestingly, her contract was renewed in January until the 2022 Asian Games, which was later postponed to the next year.

There is a section of experts who felt she did not deliver on her promise and her intense training led to so many injuries. However, AFI said she had her share of success too. The 2018 Asian and Commonwealth Games were the highlights of her coaching stint in India. The AFI had been focussing on the women’s and mixed 4x400 for important championships like the Worlds and the Olympics, but they failed to deliver in the last couple of years.

Galina’s best athlete — national record holder in 400m — Hima Das had to shift to 100m due to a lengthy back injury, Saritaben Gaekwad is nowhere in the scene, MR Poovamma tested positive for the banned substance and serving suspension, Anjali Devi is struggling with injury and VK Vismaya is not performing well. Even the men’s team is struggling. What made matters worse is the athletes, who are training outside under different coaches, outperforming those in the national camp.

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The New Indian Express