KARIAVATTOM:When Pradeesh G R, a member of the Kerala Wushu team for the 35th National Games, was training at the LNCPE stadium, it appeared as if he was doing shadow fencing. Without any weapons in hand, he was seen practising slicing and cutting movements.
Being a participant in Daoshu, a wushu event where broad sword is used for doing the elements, it was imperative that Pradeesh trained with a sword before the event. It would have given him much-needed match practice and an acquaintance with the weapon. But that wasn’t the case. The sword that he has to use didn’t arrive. And the team is not sure when it would come. Finally, the team members sought Jharkhand team officials’ help and they reciprocated by lending a sword. But the help came after words of caution. “Don’t damage the blade and keep the tip safe,” they told the Kerala team coach.
“I was training with my own sword during the preparation camp. That was a real sword bought from China and it is heavy compared to the ones we use in competitions. In the competition the sword is whirled fast and if we are not used to the equipment it will be tough to grip it,” said Pradeesh.
It was, in fact, a mistake from the part of Kerala State Sports Council that worsened the situation. They had ordered for the sword but the manufacturers delivered swords that are used in the junior categories.
“The ones used by juniors are small and if we enter into the mat for the competition using that, we would be immediately disqualified,” Pradeesh added.
Suryakanth P K, the coach of the team, said that the lack of equipment has hurt the team’s preparations. “The facilities we have right now, Manipur had it 20 years before. If we are waiting for the sword on the eve of the championship, then there is something wrong with our system,” he said.
Apart from the sword, there have been complaints regarding the wushu clothes and shoes that the Kerala players are using. Instead of branded wushu shoes, Kerala players are wearing shoes made in Kerala and they are not meant for sports use. “Quality shoes would come around Rs 3,000-3,500 and because of the high prices we settled for the locally-made causal shoes that cost Rs 500,” said an official of the Kerala Wushu Association.
The wushu clothes the players use are also substandard. “When Manipur and other players are using clothes worth Rs 4,000-4,500, our players are using second quality stuff. It’s embarrassing,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the players and officials lambasted the organisers for holding the event in an auditorium devoid of air conditioners. “Even the spectators can’t bear the heat and humidity. Then think about the players. They are sweating profusely. This is not good for the sport,” said Rajesh P Thakar, official of Bihar Wushu Federation.